High school softball: Multiple honors for Carson’s Addison

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 11, 2023

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — Recent Carson graduate Lonna Addison turned in one of the great two-way seasons in county history.

Addison is the Post’s Pitcher of the Year and shares Rowan County Player of the Year honors with West Rowan phenom Emma Clarke.

Addison also was voted South Piedmont Conference Player of the Year by the league’s coaches.

“I was very honored to get conference player of the year because as a player you work to be the best you can be,” Addison said.  “It meant a lot that my coach believed I had done enough to deserve that award. But at the same time I also was shocked because when you have an amazing player like Emma Clarke in your conference, the idea of getting an award like that is very small.”

There’s a reasonable chance that Clarke, a rising senior committed to Tennessee, is the best player in the state and maybe in the eastern half of the country, which tells you how good Addison’s season was. With her size, speed, bat speed and agility, Clarke has an unlimited ceiling, but it’s not possible for anyone to have a better high school season than Addison had.

Carson (18-9) was the last Rowan team standing in the state playoffs and tied for second in the South Piedmont Conference. Without Addison doing most of the pitching and a high percentage of the hitting, it would have been a much different year for the Cougars.

“Lonna excelled in every category and had that great all-round senior year that everyone wants to have,” Carson coach Hunter Gibbons said. “We had a special group of seniors, and she was a huge part of that.”

Addison’s numbers were surreal. Her 14-8 pitching record could have been much better, as she had a 1.46 ERA, but there were some games when the Cougars didn’t have much offense. She struck out 245 batters. She was the primary pitcher in 22 games, so she fanned about 11 batters per game. She struck out 15 a couple of times. In Carson’s three playoff victories, she allowed a total of one run.

And that was just the pitching portion of what she did.

At the plate, Addison was a fearsome force. She batted .557 with 17 extra-base hits, including nine home runs. She drove in 37 runs, accounting for one-third of Carson’s 121 RBIs.

An OPS of 1.ooo is outstanding. That’s on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, so it’s a number that measures not only the ability to get on base, but the ability to hit with power. Addison’s OPS was 1.666.

There were four other strong teams in the South Piedmont Conference, and Carson played one of the toughest non-conference schedules any Rowan school has ever tackled, so there were only about seven games out of 27 in which the Cougars had a chance to rack up easy stats. Addison hit the good pitchers, as well as the average ones.

As her amazing year rolled on, Lees-McRae had to be more and more excited that it had signed Addison early as a pitcher. She may have a chance to be a two-way standout for the Division II Bobcats when she gets to Banner Elk.

“They sent me a lot of text messages during the season, they stayed in contact and they kept up with how well I was doing,” Addison said. “As far as being a two-way player, my confidence in the batter’s box now is about the same as my confidence in the circle.”

Addison’s most memorable game this season came early at West Rowan. Addison pitched a gem and socked two home runs in that one. It was an upset victory that gave Carson confidence throughout the season. The Cougars knew that when Addison walked out to the circle, they had a chance against anyone.

“It was exciting to watch her have the year she had,” Gibbons said. “She had big hits in the box and she hit spots when she was in the circle. I never had to push her because Lonna is one of those athletes who is always going to push herself.”

When Carson lost 2-1 at Rockingham County in the fourth round of the playoffs, Gibbons called the team together for their final meeting on the field. That’s when she told Addison that she had been voted SPC Player of the Year.

“That was a devastating loss in the fourth round, but when Coach Gibbons told me about player of the year, it was a great moment and emotion flooded me,” Addison said. “But more than anything I did, I was proud of how well our team did in the playoffs. No one thought we could win some of the games that we did, and those wins always will have a special place in my heart. My team was everything a pitcher could have wanted. I will always remember my teammates and who they were.”

Addison’s plan is to become a teacher, so she may also have coaching in her future.

“I’d like to be able to teach kids to love the game the way I do,” she said.