Update on high school softball: Carson back home for Round 3 on Wednesday

Published 5:43 am Tuesday, May 16, 2023

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — Second-round upsets in the 3A softball playoffs have led to another home game for Carson.

The 11th-seeded Cougars did their part by smashing sixth-seeded Crest 8-0  on the road.

While Carson’s result was mildly surprising, 14th-seeded West Henderson’s 11-1 win at No. 3 Franklin was a shock. Franklin and West Henderson are in the same conference and Franklin had beaten West Henderson twice.

At this point in the year, it’s usually about who wants to keep playing and who wants to move on, especially when it comes to the seniors. Both of these teams obviously have seniors who want to ride the magic carpet as far as it will fly.

First pitch for the third-round 3A playoff game is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday after being delayed a day by the threat of storms.

Carson, guided by first-year coach Hunter Gibbons, is 17-8. The Cougars don’t have the sort of non-stop lineup that West Rowan has, but they have two all-star players.

Other girls who don’t have overwhelming stats have been able to come  through at key times during the regular season, the conference tournament and in the playoffs.

Carson senior Lonna Addison, who signed with Lees-McRae has turned in a monumental season. She not only carries the pitching load for the Cougars with a whopping 233 strikeouts, she provides most of Carson’s power. She’s socked nine of Carson’s 14 homers. She’s driven in 36 runs with her 42 hits and has a .568 batting average.

Center fielder Landry Stewart, a USC Upstate signee, gets on base and scores runs as a very quick leadoff batter. She’s batting .463 with 30 runs scored.  She’s high OBP and high energy.

Phoebe Cole and Emily Kann have 16 RBIs each. Emma Woodlief (.348) has been an important stick in Carson’s stretch run. Holly Stowe, the other half of Carson’s battery, has swatted three homers. If Addison gets pitched around, those girls will get a chance to make the difference.

West Henderson (17-5) has relied on Mellary Garcia as its primary pitcher most of the season, but threw Franklin a changeup last week by starting Sarah Walker in the circle. Walker hasn’t pitched a lot of innings, but she did a great j0b of keeping Franklin off-balance and West Henderson’s offense erupted for 11 runs in the first two innings.

Carson made a great run to the Western Championship series in 2018 when Landry Stewart’s sister, Rylie, was the pitcher. Carson is 12-14 all-time in the softball playoffs.

West Henderson definitely isn’t a perennial softball power. After two playoff wins this season, West Henderson is 4-18 all-time in fast-pitch softball playoff games.

Next for the winner is a road trip —to  No. 7 Rockingham County or No. 2 Oak Grove.