Former North Stanly softball standouts join West staff

Published 6:28 pm Monday, March 13, 2023

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Two softball standouts and former state champions took their old home field last week wearing a different set of school colors.

For the first time as West Stanly assistant softball coaches, former North Stanly players Weslyn Almond and Sam Hogan stepped onto their old field Wednesday when the Colts traveled to North.

Almond and Hogan were both members of the Comets’ 2017 1A state championship team. Almond was the team’s leadoff hitter and second baseman while Hogan went 8-0 in the pitching circle and later played first base and batted third for North. The Comets appeared in both the 2016 and 2017 1A State Finals series.

While standing on the field, Hogan said, “I’m watching the pitcher right now and I’m picturing myself and it’s just kind of weird knowing it’s a whole different team now.”

She said seeing the tin roof out behind the outfield fence reminded her of home runs hit off it.

“I’m glad I can be helping other people learn the game of softball,” Hogan said.

She said coaching West will “not only help them learn, but help me learn from a different perspective…I’m not used to the coaching perspective, but that’s a little more of what I want to get used to. I’m thankful Emily [Smith] has let us come on and learn more about that.”

Almond also said it was weird to be on the North field with West’s colors, considering the two teams were rivals.

“(West) used to be our rival. The colors took a little getting used to, but the team’s been great,” Almond said. “They’ve been very welcoming.”

Regarding West this season, Almond said, “we have a really great program and I’m really excited about our year. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun, a lot of success.”

She said she and Hogan are “sharing the love of the sport” with West’s players.

“We just love this sport and it’s great to see others love it, not just the highs, but the lows as well,” she said.

The two Comets have joined Walker Barbee, who played NCAA D-1 ball with Pitt. In 2022 Barbee was named national Assistant Coach of the Year on West’s staff. The Colts, under second-year head coach Smith, are the three-time defending 2A state champs.

Smith said she was thrilled to add Almond and Hogan to the staff.

“I feel very blessed to have a coaching staff who all competed in the sport at the collegiate level. In addition to that, each of us played different positions and bring different perspectives and ideas to the table,” Smith said.

“Sam and Weslyn both had decorated high school and collegiate careers,” she added, noting Hogan’s time at Wingate and Almond’s with Gardner-Webb. “Whether our players at West Stanly hope to play at the collegiate level or simply get the most out of their high school playing experience, I’m thrilled to have a staff that includes Walker, Sam and Weslyn to be able to work with our current players and help them reach their goals.”

Greg Speight, North’s former head softball coach, said Almond and Hogan, along with Alexa Sells, were not only great players but “they also worked the hardest. They knew how to demand that from everyone else by setting the example. They will be tremendous coaches if they choose to.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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