Prep Insider Blog

The Observer’s Spring Sports ‘Sweet 16’ to watch

West Lincoln’s Meredith Ferguson (left) and Kylee Leonhardt are two of the region’s top returning high school softball players.
West Lincoln’s Meredith Ferguson (left) and Kylee Leonhardt are two of the region’s top returning high school softball players.

1. Marvin Ridge baseball: Marvin Ridge All-America senior centerfielder Alex Leshock (signed with Appalachian State) and the Mavericks (30-6) seek their third straight 3A state championship. To try to get there, the Mavericks will rely on Leshock and All-America pitcher Jake Kuchmaner (signed with East Carolina).

2. Providence baseball: The Panthers (30-4 last season) have been ranked in the national top 25 (Collegiate Baseball) every week for the past two years. They won the N.C. 4A state title in 2015 and were a game short of the championship series last year. The Panthers reload with All-America sophomore catcher Ray Torres (committed to LSU), senior shortstop Satchel Jerzembeck (signed with North Carolina) and all-state pitcher Timmy Townsend.

3. Ardrey Kell baseball: The Knights hope to return to the championship conversation with two UNC-bound players in senior pitcher John Dancy and junior centerfielder Cameron Brantley.

4. West Lincoln softball: The Rebels return seven starters, led by all-state seniors Meredith Ferguson (signed with Gardner Webb) and Kylee Leonhardt (signed with Lenoir Rhyne), who hope to end this season with a state title ring.

5. Providence Day softball: The Chargers, state runners-up in 2016, are led by all-state senior pitcher Julianna Roupas (Appalachian State), who tossed six no-hitters last year, and all-state senior centerfielder Sam Russ (N.C. State), who hit .694.

6. Charlotte Latin soccer goalie Claudia Dickey: Dickey had a superb sophomore season with 15 shutouts in 24 games, including 18 saves in the Hawks’ NCISAA 3A state championship victory over Cary Academy. Dickey (committed to North Carolina) is part of loaded Latin team that includes Mary Elliott McCabe (committed to North Carolina), Sutton Jones (committed to South Carolina) and Emily Wise (Auburn).

7. Providence soccer star Molly McGarry: She has signed with UNC Wilmington after being the 2016 N.C. 4A state championship MVP. McGarry has played a big role on a team that’s gone 48-3-2 the past two seasons and looking to repeat as state champion.

8. Hough soccer star Ashlynn Serepca: The N.C. Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore, Serepca doubles as a member of the U18 U.S. National team. Serepca, who committed to Virginia, scored 33 goals last year. She leads a Hough team that won 4A state tiles in 2012 and 2014.

9. Community School of Davidson and Weddington girls soccer: Community School was 23-0-2 last season and won the N.C. 1A state title. Weddington was 24-0-1 and won in 3A. This year, Community School returns all-state defenders Grace Kwiatkowski (signed with UNC Asheville) and Cassidy Wheaton (signed with Anderson). Weddington returns 3A state championship MVP Remi Roberts (signed with Charlotte).

10. Cannon golfer Michael Sanders: Sanders (committed to Louisiana State), a junior, won the individual title by five strokes at last year’s NCISAA 3A state championships. Cannon, which won the team title by 21 shots, return its top six players, including Sanders and senior Tim Bunten (signed with East Carolina).

11. Gastonia Forestview golfer Avery Price: A senior, Price was Big South Conference Player of the Year last spring. This year, Price (signed with Georgia Southern) hopes to lead the Jaguars to their to a sixth straight 3A state title.

12. Marvin Ridge boys’ tennis: The Mavericks have gone 40-1 the past two seasons, winning two 3A state titles. Marvin Ridge is led by senior John Hatala, who has signed with Fairfield (Conn.).

13. Quinn Schneider, Woodlawn School track: Schneider, who committed to Navy, is a two-time N.C. Independent Schools 1A state champion in cross-country. He won the 3,200-meter outdoor state title last spring.

14. Melissa Zammitti, Davidson Day track: Zammitti (Cornell), a senior, won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter state titles last spring and won the NCISAA 2A state cross-country championship last fall.

15. Cambria Shuford, Statesville track: Last year, she won the 3A state title in the 400 meters and finished top seven in the 100, 200 and long jump.

16. Jaclyn Perkins, Charlotte Country Day lacrosse: Perkins (signed with Ohio State) had 59 goals, 111 groundballs and a school-record 192 draw controls last season. She helped Country Day to a fifth straight state title.