Lakewood coaches optimistic for future

By Chris Froat - Sports Writer
Freshman pitcher Madelyn Ammons gets ready to let one rip during a regular season game. She’s one of many young players developed this year that will be the future of Lakewood softball. -
Lakewood’s Emily Jackson gains control of the ball during a match this season. -

The 2018 sports season has wrapped up for Lakewood women, with recent campaigns in soccer and softball coming to a close. Despite not making it to the playoffs, Lakewood’s coaches are confident going into next season.

Softball

The softball season didn’t go as some had hoped, finishing the year 5-11 overall and 4-8 conference. While not a standout record, the team was young and focused on competing.

Head coach Alan Jackson knew they were young, setting realistic and fair expectations going into the season.

“We started out this season with expectations of just being competitive. I knew making the playoffs with a young team would be a challenge. I only had one senior and three juniors, so I did not set lofty goals,” said Jackson.

Despite that, he had plenty of praise for his team, their chemistry toward the end of the year being a positive sign.

“The majority of the team was ninth and 1oth graders. Some of the ninth graders stepped up and helped immediately. The team chemistry was starting to come around toward the end of the season,” said Jackson. “The more the younger players are around and play with the older girls, the better the chemistry will be. The playoffs picture changed from last year so I was not expecting to make the playoffs with a 5-11 record.”

This practical viewpoint toward coaching has benefited the Leopards so far. That building chemistry has given Jackson going into next season, but he noted the toughness of the conference.

“I hope the majority of the girls will return next year. If so, we will be stronger and continue to grow. I feel next year we will surprise a few teams and hopefully make a run at the top teams in the conference. When you have to play against teams that constantly go deep into the playoffs, it’s always a challenge to be competitive in our conference,” concluded Jackson.

Jackson sees this season as laying the groundwork for a better season next year.

The Leopards finished this year with a batting average of .296, on-base percentage of .366, tallying six home runs, 81 stolen bases, an ERA of 5.56 and a fielding percentage of .895.

Soccer

The Lady Leopards soccer also went through an unfavorable season. They finished the season with a 5-10 overall record, including 4-8 in conference. The soccer team also being on the younger side of the spectrum, building a foundation for success in the future was a similar goal.

Head coach Evert Cruz shared coaching colleague Jackson’s practical thought process.

“This season wasn’t a disappointment,” said Cruz. “We were a young team and built a solid foundation.”

“We simply had to adjust each game and don’t believe the standings reflect our success,” he elaborated. “We played hard and never gave up and we’re confident we can make the adjustment earlier in the next season and fight for the playoffs.”

While they didn’t manage to make the playoffs, they still finished the year fifth in the conference. They were two games shy of tying fourth-ranked Rosewood and third-ranked Hobbton, who were both 6-6 in the conference.

Freshman pitcher Madelyn Ammons gets ready to let one rip during a regular season game. She’s one of many young players developed this year that will be the future of Lakewood softball.
https://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Madelyn-Ammons.jpgFreshman pitcher Madelyn Ammons gets ready to let one rip during a regular season game. She’s one of many young players developed this year that will be the future of Lakewood softball.

Lakewood’s Emily Jackson gains control of the ball during a match this season.
https://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Emily-Jackson.jpgLakewood’s Emily Jackson gains control of the ball during a match this season.
Young softball, soccer teams build foundation for success

By Chris Froat

Sports Writer

Reach Chris Froat at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.

Reach Chris Froat at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.