High school softball: North’s Stoner driven to succeed
Published 12:01 am Tuesday, May 23, 2023
By Mike London
SPENCER — It happened in the summer of 2018, but a Little League disappointment still fuels Chloee Stoner, a graduating North Rowan senior who is a Guilford College softball recruit.
The summer of 2018 brought unexpected adversity for the always successful Rowan Little League softball team. That was a summer Rowan lost in a winner-take-all regional championship game to the Tennessee state champs and didn’t get to travel to the World Series..
“Rowan Little League is an experience of a lifetime,” Stoner said. “Growing up, it was a dream to play for Rowan Little League. When we didn’t win that championship game, it made me want to work harder. I would say that loss has made me a better athlete. Every time I think of Little League, it makes me want to work for what I didn’t get.”
Stoner had an advantage growing up — two older brothers (Trey and Logan) who were standout baseball players at North Rowan.
They could teach her some of the little things, and those little things add up.
“Having two brothers is the best,” Stoner said. “They have taught me a lot. And it helps even more that they experienced college ball. They have given me advice on what to expect in college, what the schedule would look like as an athlete, how to manage my time.”
Stoner has been an athlete since she was very young. Karsen Simpson, who recently finished her softball career at West Rowan, was there with her right from the start.
“Karsen was one of my friends and we got started together at age 4 with Tee-ball,” Stoner said. “After Tee-ball, I joined the Punishers travel team.”
That Punishers team was coached by Elizabeth Clarke, the mother of West Rowan athlete Emma Clarke.
Next came travel ball with the Bandits, where Stoner was coached by Shane Stewart, the father of Carson standouts Rylie and Landry Stewart.
She had a long list of capable coaches as the years went by, each of them adding a little more fine tuning to the player Stoner was becoming.
But the strongest memories of all for Stoner are from making the all-star roster for Rowan Little League in 2018. That team won the state title before it fell short in the regional.
“One of my favorite sports memories is from that Little League team that was coached by Steve Yang,” Stoner said. “Emma Clarke was our catcher and a girl from West Virginia tried to steal second base, Emma threw the ball to me and I tagged the girl out.”
Later, Stoner would be coached in travel ball by Mark Milam and Robert Lamb with Cage 2 Stage Athletics.
“But the most important coach I’ve ever had, even though he doesn’t have the name ‘Coach’ is my dad,” Stoner said. “He has pushed me to be the athlete I am today.”
Stoner had been an excellent three-sport athlete for North Rowan since she was a freshman and her impact on the school has been bigger than just being the star of the softball team.
She’s frequently been North’s best volleyball player.
She’s not North’s best basketball player because she’s had outstanding teammates such as Hannah Wilkerson and Bailee Goodlett, but she’s always been a starter on good teams and a dependable defender and rebounder.
She has had a great all-round school year in which she was All-Central Carolina Conference and All-Rowan County in all three of her sports. She’s a great student, she won the RONZ Sportsmanship Award at the Dale’s Sporting Goods Sam Moir Classic and she was honored on the football field as North’s homecoming queen.
She has loved competing in volleyball and basketball, but softball definitely is her priority sport.
“Starting softball at such a young age made me fall in love with it even more,” Stoner said. “Softball has taught me so much growing up. It’s taught me how to be mentally and physically tough when games do not go my way. And the game of softball has brought me the best of friends.”
At North, she always has played softball with mostly inexperienced players who haven’t been on the travel ball circuit, so the Cavaliers haven’t won a lot. She’d love to be playing shortstop, but usually she’s been the best pitching option. There was a game against rival Salisbury in which Stoner sped around the bases for two inside-the-park homers.
North won only five games her senior year, but she took pride in each victory and the Cavaliers did make the 1A state playoffs.
There were several winning teams in the league, but Stoner’s talent and competitiveness impressed the league’s coaches so much that she was voted Central Carolina Conference Player of the Year.
Guilford found Stoner when the Quakers were scouting a showcase. Head coach Dennis Shores and assistant Mark Lamb had come to the tournament to scout one of Stoner’s teammates, but Stoner played so well that she caught their attention.
“Coach Shores liked the way I played and asked me after that game to come to Greensboro and tour Guilford,” Stoner said. “Once I took the tour, I told my parents, ‘This is it, this is my home.'”
Stoner is low-key when she’s not in the gym or on a diamond. She spends her down time hanging out with her friends and family and watches a lot of Netflix.
But the competitive fire is always there when it’s time for it. That Little League loss hasn’t been forgotten. It still pushes her.
Her goal academically is to pursue a nursing degree.