Spring sports practices underway

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 16, 2023

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

After this past Sunday’s dreary and rainy day, spring sports probably weren’t at the forefront of most peoples’ minds. However, this past Monday, spring sports for eight different sports started at West Forsyth.
Spring sports are comprised of baseball, softball, girls soccer, boys and girls lacrosse, boys golf, and boys and girls track and field started for the Titans as well as schools from across North Carolina in the NCHSAA.
Baseball, under Coach Brad Bullard, enjoyed a stellar season last year. The Titans finished 25-6 overall and 11-3 in the Central Piedmont 4-A before falling in the NCHSAA Class 4-A quarterfinals to Charlotte Providence.
“It’s been good,” Bullard said. “We’ve got Harrison Lewis, obviously. He played a big part in our success last year and has signed with UNC Chapel Hill. We’ve got a junior, right-handed pitcher, Jack Vest, who has committed to East Tennessee State.
“I think for us, it starts with those two guys.
“It’s truly been a great fall and great winter. We lost a lot of talent, there’s no doubt about that. So far, it’s just been a real enjoyable group. They show up every day. They’ve worked hard. They’ve listened. They hold each other accountable. And for me, sort of my pet peeve, obviously, and they know this, is communication. Our communication with the guys and the coaching staff has been very, very good.
“We’ve got Parker Lowe back. Parker played third base for us last year. Honestly, he probably played a little bit out of position because he’s a middle infielder, but we were just so good up the middle last year, he’s a phenomenal defender, so he can really play anywhere.
In addition, senior Tyson Merritt is back.
“I’ve always said that you build from the middle and go out,” Bullard said. “Having Parker up the middle for us this year and having those two guys on the mound, and having Tyson behind the plate, it’s a good core to build from.”
With last season’s success, a team can’t do that in baseball without scoring some runs. The Titans outscored their opponents 261-82.
“That’s to be determined,” Bullard said. “We don’t have a lot of guys coming back that had a lot of at-bats last year. It’s just wide-open.”
West Forsyth softball, under Coach Kevin Baity, finished 19-8 overall last season and 9-5 in the Central Piedmont.
Much like baseball, the Titans lost a number of players to graduation. However, two seniors, pitcher Cate Etchason and center fielder Abby Hunter are back.
“I’ve had years where maybe I didn’t have any seniors,” Baity said. “…My sophomore class is very strong…And the freshman group, I’ve got some of them, there’ll probably two or three of them on varsity.”
The Titans lost catcher Emily Mutter, outfielder Hannah Patterson, outfielder Olivia Chappell and outfielder Kennedy Wall to graduation.
“With Hannah Patterson, you can’t replace her enthusiasm and her work ethic and her attitude, I mean I just love that kid to death,” Baity said. “We’ll miss Olivia’s experience and her bat. Emily Mutter, my gosh. The way she led the team behind the plate, being the team captain, her attitude, one of the better catchers, I’m not ever going to say the best, but the way she blocked and framed was very good. Cate improved tremendously from her sophomore to her junior year, and I think a large part of that was because of Emily Mutter.”
The catcher this season will either be 6-foot freshman Taylor Alderman, who played volleyball, and Lilly Murphy, who transferred from Pennsylvania.
“Either way, Cate is going to be pitching to someone she’s never pitched to before,” Baity said. “And I think the quicker we can make that adjustment, and she can feel comfortable with who is behind the plate, because we all know it starts in the (pitching circle). And Cate’s season last year was amazing.”
The West Forsyth girls soccer team finished 15-6-1 and 12-0 in the Central Piedmont 4-A last season, losing to Mooresville in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs.
Coach Scott Bilton will have to try to replace six seniors — Caroline Dailey, Shelby Lowder, Christy Lauffenburger, Emily Rodger, Madison Shearer, and Zoey Holloway to graduation.
“Some of those girls were four-year starters,” Bilton said. “So, you know, it’s an old coaching adage, and it is true. You don’t replace them. You try to figure what can we do? It’ll definitely be my challenge to try to figure out, OK, who can I put in there?
“We’ll have some new kids. We’ll have some people who were on the team last year that are going to step up to a bigger role.”
The Titans are loaded at goalkeeper with juniors Braeden Carter and Sydney Konkler and could have as many as four goalkeepers.
West Forsyth outscored its opponents 74-27 last season, led by Aislynn McGuire, who had 20-plus goal and 20-plus assists, and was conference player of the year as a freshman.
“She is one of the most talented players I’ve had the ability to work with,” Bilton said.
The West Forsyth boys lacrosse team, led by Coach Jacob Able, finished 10-11 overall and 5-7 in the conference last season, losing to Southwest Guilford in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs. The West Forsyth girls lacrosse team, led by Coach Doug Brawley, finished 18-3 overall and 11-1 in the conference, losing to Charlotte Myers Park in the first round of the playoffs.
The Titans’ boys tennis team, led by Coach Sara Cranford, finished 13-1 overall and 12-0 in the conference. The boys golf team is led by Coach Kevin King, and they’ll be shooting for the opportunity to play in the NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship on May 15-16 at Pinehurst No. 8. And the boys and girls track-and-field teams, coached by Nathan Newsome, just wrapped up their indoor season last Saturday and are hoping for a run to the NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship May 19-20 at N.C. A&T in Greensboro.