Softball seniors slam the ball on Senior Night

A pair of Warlassies celebrate their final regular season home games in style with home runs

Fred McCormick

Senior Night at Owen High School is a time to recognize the team’s most experienced players who are playing at home for one of the final games of the season.

On May 1, seniors Natalie Stewart and Ari Pridmore brought plenty of attention to themselves as each homered in Owen’s 15-0 win over Mountain Heritage.

Owen senior Ari Pridmore squares up on a ball that she turns into a three-run home run, her first of the season, on Senior Night, May 1 at the school.

Stewart collected her second home run of the season with a lead-off solo shot to right field, her second of the season. Pridmore hit her first of the year in the fourth inning when she sent a three-run blast to left field.

“I was super happy,” she said. “As soon as I hit it I knew it was going over, so I turned to watch it. I hadn’t hit a home run run this year and I really wanted to.”

The Warlassies’ right fielder hit a pair of home runs a season ago when she was one of four players on the team who combined for seven homers.

Stewart, a power threat at first base for the Warlassies, hit two home runs as a sophomore and one a season ago. She hit her first of this season back in March, at home against Mitchell.

Natalie Stewart smiles big as Warlassies seniors are introduced before the game against Mountain Heritage on Senior Night. Stewart hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning of a 15-0 victory.

Her blast against Mountain Heritage was a little different from her previous ones, according to Stewart, who said her most powerful swings usually come when she’s pulling the ball to left field.

“My dad was actually behind me, and he told me to set up (to hit the ball) on the outside,” she said. “So I saw the pitch was outside and I went with it, and it was gone. Hitting the ball to the opposite field is a lot harder to do.”

Like Pridmore, Stewart knew the ball would leave the field when she made contact.

“I think you can tell when you hit a ball on the sweet spot of the bat,” she said. “You can feel it and know it’s gone.”

The win over Mountain Heritage was part of a late-season offensive surge by the Warlassies. In a five-game stretch from April 20 to March 3, Owen outscored four Western Highlands Conference opponents 85-0.

The Warlassies continued their winning ways through their regular season finale, on the road against Polk, where Owen allowed four runs against the Wolverines. The win gave the Warlassies a 13-3 overall record for the season (10-2 in conference), and the runs were the first allowed by Owen since April 18.

“We’ve put a lot of runs on the board late in the season,” Warlassie head coach Jenny Johnson said. “It’s definitely a positive to be hitting and scoring runs like this as we head into the postseason.”

The first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs begins on May 10. Johnson believes her team's record could lead to the team hosting a game in the opening round, but the brackets had yet to be released as of deadline.