That’s a wrap: West Forsyth sports calls it a season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 1, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

It’s June. That means high school graduations are upon us.

That also means that spring sports in high school are either coming to an end or have come to an end in many cases. At West Forsyth, all spring sports have concluded. Even though there were no team state championships, there were plenty of bright spots for the Titans.

One of those teams was the baseball team, led by Coach Brad Bullard. Bullard, who was named the Central Piedmont 4-A coach of the year, helped lead the Titans to win the conference-tournament championship, defeating Davie County 5-4.

“Any time you can do that (win the tournament), especially with that being at the end of the year,” Bullard said of winning the conference tournament being the highlight of the season. “You drop a couple games early, you can always look back, and you can always say, ‘If we’d done this,’ or ‘If we’d done that,’ or ‘If we’d made that play,’ or ‘If I would’ve called this or called that,’ but when you play Reagan and Davie County two, three days of each other — they both had a great run in the state (NCHSAA Class 4-A) playoffs, which doesn’t surprise me.”

Because rain interrupted the conference tournament, only the semifinals and championships were played. West Forsyth defeated Reagan 5-4 on May 4 in the semifinals and, one night later, defeated Davie County 5-4 in the championship.

“They’re both very, very good teams,” Bullard said. “But, yeah, that was an awesome feeling. It’s always big to win the tournament. It was fun to win the tournament.”

West Forsyth finished 19-9 overall and 10-4 in the conference, but it struggled until it went on a spring-break tournament April 3-6 just outside of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Before the tournament, Reagan swept West Forsyth 3-2 and 12-2.

“Those first few weeks were hard,” Bullard said. “Nobody likes losing, but now that the year is over and you get a chance to step back and take a breath, and you look at what those kids did, I think the one word we used a lot, it just kept coming to mind was that they were resilient.

“They kept learning. They kept being coachable. They played hard. And they were just good teammates.”

While on the trip, West Forsyth played four games in four days, going 2-2.

“You don’t play back-to-back-to-back-to-back very often in high school,” Bullard said. “It gives you a chance to get away from the CPC grind. We played great teams at the beach. I mean, we really did. All four teams we played at the beach were really good. But, it’s not to just look up and say, ‘Oh, God, we’re playing Reagan, we’re playing East (Forsyth), we’re playing Davie. It gives you a chance to just sort of step back and take a breath.”

Playing four games in four days helped the Titans build some depth and confidence. West Forsyth went 9-1 after the spring-break tournament by defeating Davie County in the Central Piedmont 4-A tournament championship.

“I feel great about it,” Bullard said. “We just had our end-of-season banquet last week, and it’s always good to have that. Of course, you reflect with the parents and the kids on how the season went. One thing I think stuck out in my mind, and our coaches’ mind, and our kids’ mind, at one point, we were like 10-8. We hadn’t been in that position very much.

“When you’re dealing with high school kids, or you’re dealing with any kids that can go one way or the other. But, you know, we got hot.”

After winning the conference tournament, West Forsyth played host to Charlotte Catholic in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs and won that game 5-4. Three nights later, West Forsyth traveled to Greensboro and lost to Northwest Guilford 7-1 in the second round of the playoffs, ending the season for West Forsyth.

“I don’t think we did anything wrong that night,” Bullard said. “They were just the better team.”

In addition to Bullard being voted conference coach of the year, the Titans had five players make all-conference — Jack Vest, Camdyn Daly, Parker Lowe, Luis Acevedo and Harrison Lewis, who was named Player of the Year. Lewis, who has signed to pitch at North Carolina, is one of eight seniors the Titans are losing to graduation.

“Harrison ended the year with 106 strikeouts,” Bullard said. “But I think the part that people maybe forget, or because his pitching is so great, Harrison hit .410 for us this year and hit 10 home runs.”

Girls soccer at West Forsyth made its perennial dominant run this past season under Coach Scott Bilton, who was also named Coach of the Year in the Central Piedmont 4-A.

West Forsyth went 19-4-1 overall and 13-1 in the conference. West Forsyth won the Central Piedmont 4-A championship and played Monroe Piedmont in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A tournament, winning that game 6-1. Three days later, West Forsyth played host to South Mecklenburg, but it lost that game 2-0, ending the season.

“Overall, I’m pretty pleased with what we did [after] losing significant contributors, players that had been with me for four years, coming into this year kind of wondering what was going to happen,” Bilton said. “This team probably honestly exceeded a little bit of my expectations. You know, we were able to have some really big wins. And, unfortunately, just couldn’t keep it going in the playoffs. But I was really proud of what this team did overall on the field and off the field.”

West Forsyth was rolling through the regular season and clinched the conference championship. With a conference record of 13-0, it played host to rival East Forsyth on Senior Night. East Forsyth won 2-0, ending West Forsyth’s hopes of going undefeated in the conference.

“On that night, East was better than us,” Bilton said. “It’s kind of a testament to our team mentality, and one of the things that made me really proud of them all year long is that they played that game not to lose when we played East Forsyth. And I’ll take some responsibility. I told them in my 15 years of coaching at West Forsyth, I had never lost on a Senior Night to my knowledge.

“And I said that before the game, and really I think that kind of just put a little bit too much pressure on them. And a couple of our girls even said that they were just playing so hard for those seniors that they just couldn’t relax. I think that they were just too tight. And it showed in the way that we played and East executed.”

Still, West Forsyth, which outscored its opponents 98-17, but it was shut out by South Mecklenburg in the second round of the playoffs.

“I thought we had some great training sessions in the lead-up to the playoffs,” Bilton said. “And then going into the games, both the Piedmont game, as well as South Meck. I felt that we were ready. I felt that we executed our game plan. And the problem was that South Meck was able to finish their opportunities. And I hate to sound like a broken record, but we didn’t.”

Senior Raegan Williams was named player of the year. Four other Titans’ players — Aislyn Maguire, Hannah Hanes, Abby Reutinger, Rosa Gonzalez, and Kate Schaffer — were named all-conference.

The Titans will lose four seniors — Izzy McQueen, Gonzalez, Williams and Schaffer.

“Those four are going to be hard to replace,” Bilton said. “Really, with the leadership that they gave us on the field, and with two of them being our elected captains of Raegan and Kate, it is going to be impossible to replace that type of leadership and experience.”

Boys tennis at West Forsyth, coached by Sara Cranford, dominated the Central Piedmont 4-A conference this season.

The Titans finished 15-3 overall and 14-0 in the conference, and Cranford was named conference coach of the year.

In addition, Xavier Lopez won the singles championship in the conference tournament. Also, Lopez, John Howell, Sean Cooper, Gavin Lamb and Jeffrey Lyons were named all-conference.

West Forsyth received the conference’s automatic bid to play in the NCHSAA Class 4-A tournament, but it lost to Greensboro Page 5-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

The West Forsyth girls lacrosse team, coached by Doug Brawley, finished 19-3 overall and 10-2 in the Central Piedmont 4-A.

Two Titans’ players were named Players of the Year — Alivia Gurley was named Offensive Player of the Year, and Morgan McDaniel was named Defensive Player of the Year.

Also, four other Titans players — Bailey Fox, Leah Meyers, Aayalyn Russell, and Kendall Gurley — were named all-conference.

West Forsyth defeated Cornelius Hough 18-8 in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs but lost 21-2 in the second round to Charlotte Catholic.

In softball, West Forsyth, coached by Kevin Baity, finished 20-4 overall and 13-1 in the conference and was also well-represented. Sydney Horton was named Player of the Year, and Cate Etchason was named Pitcher of the Year.

In addition, three other Titans — Kaylyn Riddle, Abby Hunter and Madisen Barringer — made all-conference.

West Forsyth lost to Davie County 4-3 in the conference-tournament semifinals and to Weddington 2-1 in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs.

In boys track-and-field, coached by Nathan Newsome, Tyson Adams, who won the NCHSAA Class 4-A state long-jump championship two weeks ago for the Titans, was named all-conference in boys track-and-field in three events — long jump, 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. Also, in boys track-and-field, Jaiden Hubbard received all-conference honors in the triple jump and 400-meter dash.

In addition to Adams, who won two NCHSAA Class 4-A state indoor long-jump championships and two outdoor long-jump championships in the last year and a half, he received all-conference honors in the long jump, 100, 200, Hubbard was all-conference in the triple jump and the 400. In the 3,200-meter relay, Connor Herold, Colby Groce, Owen Newsome, and Wesley Haggstrom — made it from West Forsyth.

In girls track-and-field, also coached by Nathan Newsome, Madelin Betson from West Forsyth picked up all-conference honors in the high jump, Krisa Coleman-Simon was named all-conference in the long jump, as well as Haley Hanes, who finished third this past Saturday at the NCHSAA Class 4-A girls outdoor track-and-field championship in the pole vault.

In the girls 3,200-meter relay, from the Titans —Dempsey Baldini, LuLu Serang, Tenley Douglass and Sophie Cowart — made all-conference.

West Forsyth boys lacrosse, coached by Jacob Able, and finished with an overall record of 9-8 and 7-7 in the Central Piedmont 4-A, had two players make all-conference.

Twin brothers Brody and Ryan Macdonald made all-conference from the Titans.

West Forsyth defeated Greensboro Grimsley 19-12 in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs but lost 19-2 in the second round to Lake Norman.

In boys golf, coached by Kevin King, Hershal Patel from West Forsyth made all-conference.