Fortunately, for West Lincoln head coach Allan Chapman, the Lady Rebels softball senior class is a small one.
The bad news, however, is that the three young ladies that had their final season shortened by Covid-19, are all four-year varsity softball players that will leave some big shoes to fill.
Seniors Alyson Eaker, Gracie Ledford and Katie Willis won 40 games during their first three seasons with the Lady Rebels.
As freshmen in 2017, the trio played on a team that went 17-7, including 11-3 in league play and winning a conference championship. That squad lost a heartbreaking 6-5, eight-inning game to South Stokes in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
Their team went 14-10 in 2018 before losing to Brevard in the playoffs, then last season the West Lincoln trio went 9-13 on the diamond before losing a tight 3-2 playoff contest to North Davidson in the opening round.
But their senior season, like many others, was limited to just five games when the Coronavirus halted play back on March 13.
The Lady Rebels were off to a fast start to the 2020 season, winning four of their first five games. The team had a pair of wins over Cherryville, and also notched victories over East Burke and Lake Norman Charter.
The only blemish on their record was a close 10-6 loss to an undefeated East Lincoln team.
The senior class played a key role in the early season success of Coach Chapman’s team. Eaker, a pitcher and outfielder, was 9 for 17 at the plate, hitting .529 with four doubles, 6 RBIs and six runs scored. She had not struck out at the plate a single time through those first five contests.
On the mound, Eaker pitched 12 solid innings in five appearances, with one win and a save.
Ledford, the team’s center fielder for the third season, had five hits and six runs scored through five games, with an on base percentage of .450.
Willis, a pitcher and third baseman for West Lincoln, had opened her senior campaign with a pair of triples, a home run, eight runs driven in and 6 runs scored through the five games.
In five appearances on the mound, she had three of the Lady Rebels wins and a save. In her 18 innings pitched, she recorded fifteen strikeouts.
With their experience on the softball field and the numbers that these seniors had posted through just five games, it’s easy to see why Coach Chapman and the West Lincoln softball program will miss this senior trio.