When the Roanoke Rapids varsity softball troupe takes the diamond next spring as a member of the Big East 2A/3A Conference, it will do so on the heels of a solid 2020-2021 campaign — one that witnessed the team find an offensive identity, develop a pair of starting pitchers and nearly qualify for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A postseason.
And while the latter might be a thornish subject, there are indeed a host of reasons for Yellow Jacket enthusiasts to be excited about the volume-scoring club — which is where our analysis begins.
Leading the way at the dish this spring for RRHS was Karlee Hammack, who pieced together a consistently powerful junior campaign.
Over 10 games, No. 24 obliterated NCC foes, hitting .448 with 21 RBIs and a pair of home runs, pacing a bunch that finished second in the league with respect to team batting average (.327), runs scored (100) and runners plated (80).
In short, the Lady Jackets can rake.
Apart from Hammack, other names to keep tabs on next season include Sue Odom, who finished the spring with 10 base hits, eight RBIs and a .385 average; Lauren Garner, who hit .290 with five runners crossed; and Kaysie Summerlin, who managed five hits and three RBIs in a solid freshman season.
In addition to hitting a combined .395 with 14 runners scored this season, the duo of Kalissa Williams and Logan Storey worked together to arm the Yellow Jacket circle, which, in a league where four teams hit .296 or higher, proved to be no small task.
Williams, now a sophomore, evolved as the staff’s ace, allowing 41 hits and 11 earned runs while striking out 40 batters in 37 innings of work.
In summary, tidy.
Storey, who could perhaps see more innings next season, also proved capable, sacrificing 21 hits en route to booking a 2.47 ERA.
What’s more, the Jackets were reliable in support of the pair, concluding the season with a .940 fielding percentage — committing just 14 errors over 233 total chances.
Should RRHS continue its dynamic ways at the plate and its reliability in the circle, things could get quite interesting as the team introduces itself to a slate of new faces next season.
Leading matters on the 3A level will likely be Franklinton and Southern Nash, which qualified for the 2021 NCHSAA postseason, in addition to Rocky Mount, which navigated an uneven spring, and Northern Nash, seeking redemption from a down, single-victory season.
On the 2A landscape, the Jackets should anticipate competitive dealings with rival Bunn, as well as old friends Louisburg and J.F. Webb.
All things considered, it’s an interesting step in a new direction from a program that seemed to find its day-in, day-out form over the course a shortened, trying spring slate.