South Lenoir reflects upon Senior Night Tuesday
South Lenoir’s baseball team has won 41 games over the past four seasons, including a 2016 trip to the NCHSAA third round. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
DEEP RUN — Washington may have ruined the night, but not the careers of South Lenoir’s seniors Tuesday.
In the final home game of the season in baseball, softball and girls’ soccer, the Pam Pack won all three to put a bit of a hindrance on festivities. In baseball, Washington (12-4, 8-2 Eastern Carolina Conference) won 11-0 to maintain a half-game lead over Ayden-Grifton in the conference standings as Jensen Barwick, Heath Davis, Gavin Harrell, Everett Oliver, Landon Stroud, Smith Stroud, Luke Thigpen, Christopher Tyndall and Jake Wetherington weren’t able to finish their last games in Deep Run on top.
Still, the South Lenoir seniors have won 41 games over the past four years with two more to play and had a third-round appearance in the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs in 2016.
“I love each and every one of our seniors,” South Lenoir coach David Combs said. “They’ve busted their tails for us each season and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys.”
In softball, the Blue Devils’ furious rally fell short in a 5-4 loss that clinched the ECC for the Pam Pack (14-0, 10-0). South Lenoir (8-6, 7-3) trailed 5-0 going into the bottom of the sixth, but a 2-run single by Logan Lucas and a pair of errors after Macy Sanderson’s single plated two more, including Sanderson. Allie Parker was able to beat out a grounder for an infield hit with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough.
Despite the setback Tuesday, Parker, Kenly Hardison and Samantha Sutton have plenty to celebrate career-wise. The trio has gone 62-25 so far, including two ECC championships and a third-round appearance in the state playoffs last season.
“These girls have worked hard and brought a lot to our program,” South Lenoir coach Lisa Smith said. “They’re highly motivated, they fight and have really stepped up their games lately. They challenge each other in softball and also volleyball, and respond well when we challenge them as coaches.”
Parker said she’s learned quite a bit from her time at South Lenoir, and not just the fundamentals.
“I really learned how to rely on my teammates,” Parker said. “They’ll always be there for you whether you agree with them all of the time or not. You have to be yourself out there on the field.”
Hardison said nothing is promised at South Lenoir.
“You’re not given a position — you have to work for it every day,” Hardison said. “There’s always someone coming up with the same abilities you have, so you have to prove why you deserve to play over them.”
Sutton said perseverance is key.
“You can’t give up,” Sutton said. “You have to work hard for that number one spot and the coaches definitely push us past what we believed our limits were.”
In soccer, South Lenoir kept it close early before Washington took over in a 10-1 game to clinch a share of the conference title. The Pam Pack (10-3, 6-0) can win it outright with a win over North Lenoir April 29, and opened up the scoring on a Rebecca Zerniak goal in the 15th minute before Candace Pierce responded six minutes later on a free kick from about 25 yards away, bouncing off of the goalkeeper and rolling in.
From there, Washington’s aggressive offense took over. The Pam Pack were led by Zerniak’s five goals and Lilly Frances Lobos’ three, ending the game in the 69th minute.
Despite the setback, South Lenoir coach David Whaley said he has nothing but positives about his six seniors — Catherine Edwards, Sydney Edwards, Keelin Howard, Hailey Lewis, JaQuoia McClain and Pierce. The Blue Devils (8-3, 4-2) are still on pace for a second great campaign after winning a school-record 10 games in 2018.
“They’ve brought a lot of leadership and were positive role models for our younger players,” Whaley said. “I’ve been thankful to coach them over the past two years and they’ve done a tremendous job — we just went up against a very good team in Washington (Tuesday). Still, the season’s not over and we’ve got three games to play and possibly set up a first-round home game in the playoffs.”