The 2009 baseball season was a banner year for several Lake Norman area teams, including Lake Norman, which won the 3A state title and Hopewell, which won the ME-CA 7 conference title going 20-6 overall.
So in 2010, there was a lot of reason to be optimistic, and at the same time, a lot of question marks about the challenge of following up championship seasons in the newly formed I-Meck, which pitted Hopewell, Lake Norman and North Meck in the same conference for the first time.
Hopewell faired the best, winning the I-Meck under first-year coach Chet Greeson, with a veteran roster. Lake Norman, despite losing most of their starters from their title team, finished 15-9 overall and made the playoffs.
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The most surprising team from the area was Southlake Christian. The Eagles improved dramatically as a team, going from 11-15 in 2009 to 24-8 squad that made it all the way to the 2A NCISAA state semifinals.
Player of the year: Jared Fortune, Southlake Christian
Jared Fortune had a career year in 2009, batting .500 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI for his 11-14 Southlake Christian squad. This season, Fortune may have been even better, hitting .448 with 15 home runs and 45 RBI as the Eagles advanced to the 2A NCISAA state semifinals for the second time in his three seasons. While Fortune has rewritten the Southlake Christian baseball record books.
Baseball coach of the year: Chet Greeson, Hopewell
Chet Greeson has shown he can win just about anywhere as a baseball coach. After successful stints at Harding, South Meck, East Rowan and East Meck, Greeson did it again this year at Hopewell, guiding the Titans to an I-Meck championship in his first year as head coach. The Titans, 17-9 overall this season, also beat Greeson's most recent team, East Meck, in the playoffs, before losing in the second round.
All-Lake Norman News Baseball Team
1B - Johnny Piedmonte, North Mecklenburg: Six-foot-seven has giant amount of potential.
2B - Travis Hallman, Southlake Christian: Another offensive cog in the Eagles' offensive machine.
SS - Nathan Sharp, Southlake Christian: The other half of the Eagles' power surge with 15 HRs.
3B - Nick Keith, Lake Norman: Former role player turned into big hitter this season.
OF - Taylor Thurber, Lake Norman: One of Wildcats' best players is also relief pitcher.
OF - Kyle Himler, Hopewell: Recovered from Tommy John surgery in '09 to hit. 421.
UTIL - Zech Wiggs, Lake Norman Charter: Knights' best player, pitches (4-1) and hits (.534 ) with the best of them.
UTIL - Daniel Whitecavage, Hopewell: Titan's all-everything player plays all positions.
UTIL - Jared Fortune, Southlake Christian: 28 home runs in the last two seasons for all-stater.
C - Adam Venditti, North Mecklenburg: Belmont recruit a rock behind the plate.
P - Hunter Conley, Hopewell: Titan hurler had another standout season on mound, at plate.
P - Hunter May, Hopewell: One of the area's best pitchers when he is on.
P - Tyler Lewis, Lake Norman: Multi-talented pitcher can play several positions.
P - Parker Hills, East Lincoln: Southern Piedmont 2A player of the year named all-state.
P - Aaron Spano, North Mecklenburg: Big expectations as he heads to Appalachian State.
Lake Norman (26-3) had their best season in school history, winning the I-Meck conference title before advancing to the state quarterfinals under first-year coach Bob Hall. North Meck was nearly as good, going 21-5 and advancing to the second round of the 4A playoffs. Hopewell (18-8) also had a strong season and made it to the second round of the playoffs.
Player of the year: Sara Mooney, North Meck
Sara "Boomer" Mooney didn't begin her high school career as a catcher, and might not finish it there. But for the past two seasons, Mooney has been one of the best softball players in the state no matter what position she plays.
After an all-conference freshman season as a pitcher, Mooney found herself moving back behind the plate to start her sophomore year in 2009 to make room for a talented North Meck pitching staff. All Mooney has done since is earn back-to-back all-state honors behind the plate.
Mooney, who is also the Vikings' best and most powerful hitter, helped the Vikings to the playoffs once again. Mooney will likely get more time on the mound next season as Sara Allen graduates.
Coach of the year: Bob Hall, Lake Norman
First-year head Lake Norman coach, Bob Hall, knew he would have to convince his players to buy into a "team first" concept if his talented team was going to succeed.
After 26 wins, an I-Meck conference title and a berth in the state quarter finals, the Wildcats not only proved they were one of the best teams in the area, but also one of the better softball squads in the state.
Lake Norman proved it on the field beating I-Meck rival North Meck twice and nationally-ranked Alexander Central in the state quarterfinals. Hall loses only two seniors and returns his top two pitchers in Stacey Houser and Kayla Pine, not to mention seven of his top nine players.
All-Lake Norman News softball team
1B - Dominique Wilson, Lake Norman: Do-it-all player, would be main pitcher for most teams.
2B - Arin Hall, Lake Norman: Sparkling in the field, vastly improved at the plate.
SS - Lauren Lewis, North Meck: Multi-sport star finishes off remarkable Viking career.
3B - Jasmyn Lindsay, North Meck: Rock-solid player on a star-studded team.
OF - Lauren Shanks, Southlake Christian: Major part of Eagles' present and future.
OF - Chloe Archer, Lake Norman: Injury stopped a remarkable freshman season (also pitches).
OF - Morgan Lashley, North Meck: Excelled in both the outfield and on the mound.
UTIL - Brittany Miller, East Lincoln: Started since the day she stepped on the team.
UTIL - Mariah McGuffey, Lake Norman: Wildcats' catcher was also a coach on the field.
C - Sarah "Boomer" Mooney, North Meck: James Madison commit is a dominant player behind and at the plate.
P - Stacey Houser, Lake Norman: Sophomore already close to being the best player in the area.
P - Kayla Pine, Lake Norman: Like Houser, her potential is limitless on the mound, at the plate.
P - Sara Allen, North Meck: Future Winthrop hurler was as good as it gets in high school.
P - Stephanie Spain, Hopewell: Titans' ace did a lot despite playing in state's best league.