Seasoned Jets, Hawks and Young Warlassies Shine in Softball - TribPapers

Seasoned Jets, Hawks and Young Warlassies Shine in Softball

Kiersten Gosnell fires a pitch for North Buncombe. She is among seniors who starred two seasons ago, when NBHS was the 3A state runner-up. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Weaverville – North Buncombe walloped perennial league contender T.C. Roberson 10-3 in a pivotal Mountain Athletic Conference clash on April 16.

Peyton Whitson had three hits and three stolen bases for NBHS. That avenged a 5-2 loss to TCR. Whitson is among a handful of seniors who starred two seasons ago, when North Buncombe’s “Weaverville Wonders” were the 3A state runner-up and talk of local spring sports.

Two stars from that squad shine in college. Karlyn Pickens has mowed down batters in SEC wars for the past two seasons, as a co-ace for Tennessee. Catcher Julianna Mendoza is excelling for North Greenville University.

A new Lady Hawk star, freshman phenom Sadie Jo Hunter, struck out 19 Lady Rams. She fanned 14 McDowell Lady Titans in a 1-0 triumph last Thursday, in another MAC showdown. She is 5-2 for NBHS, yielding a mere half-run per game. Her grandfather, Joe Hunter, was the Ram head football coach 30 years ago and then Brevard’s defensive coordinator. Sadie’s father, David Hunter (BHS ‘07) and her uncle Jake each quarterbacked Brevard in football.

Hunter hunts outs from the mound and hits at the plate. She is batting an amazing .500, with two home runs. Seasoned junior Molly Clark hits .333, sophomore Lily Metcalf .318, Whitson .293, and senior Shayna Higgins bats .256.

Hawk senior pitching co-ace and multi-sport star Kiersten Gosnell (3-3, 1.56) started against Owen, in the middle game of contests on three successive evenings last week. NBHS fell 7-3 to Owen in a non-league contest. But they rebounded to shut down second-place McDowell. David Griffin coaches NBHS softball.

MAC leaders late last week were Enka (13-2; 8-1 MAC) and McDowell (10-4; 6-2), with North Buncombe (8-5; 5-3) just ahead of Reynolds (6-8; 4-3) which beat NBHS 5-3. The rematch was on Monday. Roberson (3-10; 3-6), Erwin (3-11; 2-6), and Asheville (1-13; 0-7) follow.

A major rivalry battle is North Buncombe at Enka on Friday, April 26 at 5 p.m. The Hawks beat Enka 1-0 at home on March 27 in eight innings, which is one extra frame.

Enka, coached by Jennifer Kruk, wants payback for their sole conference defeat. Sugar Jet standouts include the junior trio of pitcher Karly Presnell, catcher Emma Payne, and OF Gracie Merrell. They crushed Roberson 19-0 at TCR last Friday.

Erwin wore out the scoreboard in a 27-2 outburst against Asheville High. Haley Carter, a sophomore, homered and knocked in four runs. The Lady Warriors won the doubleheader’s second game 5-2. Senior Jocelyn Shelton no-hit AHS for five innings, striking out eight Cougars. Chris Brown coaches the Lady Warriors.

Young Warlassies

Owen (13-2; 7-1) is tied atop Western Highlands standings with 1A Draughn, and paces 2A schools. Pete Ledford coaches the Warlassies. They won a convincing challenge by 7-3 at 3A NBHS on April 17.

Shortstop Mia Roland, who bats .528, smashed a grand slam for her third homer in 2024. She homered and stole two bases in beating Swain County 4-0 at home a day later on April 18, as Owen won its ninth game in a row while scoring an average of 9.5 runs.

Roland has batted in 24 runs. The freshman is a very consistent contributor with a stolen base in each game, and at least one hit in 14 of Owen’s first 15 contests. Cleary, the Warlassies are rolling with Roland.

Seven ninth-graders comprise half of Owen’s 14-player varsity roster. There are three juniors and three sophomores. Tinley Clark, the team’s sole senior, drove in both runs in a 2-0 shutout of 4A Freedom.

If there was a remake of the film “Sophie’s Choice,” it could star Owen junior pitcher Sophie Neal. This Sophie’s choice is to strike out batters. She fanned 10 Swain Maroon Devils, marooning them on their bench, in her seven-inning complete game win.

Neal contained North Buncombe’s potent offense, too. Neal and sophomore Easton Whitson drove in runs as Owen jumped to a 3-0 early lead. NBHS’ Molly Clark and Hunter scored in the bottom of the third, to tighten the score at 3-2. But Roland’s slam sealed Owen’s victory. Fans of both schools crowded the stands.