Polk County’s senior softball duo of Ansley Lynch and Morgan Stott are no strangers to postseason action.
But as the Wolverines prepare to open the 2019 playoffs Tuesday at home against Cornerstone Charter, both admit there’s a bit of a different feeling this time around, rooted in the fact that each game could be their final one in blue and white.
“There’s definitely a lot more pressure,” Lynch said. “I used to think, we always have next year. Now we don’t have next year.”
“It’s definitely more emotional going into it,” Stott said. “I know it could be my last game at any time. It’s made it more stressful for me because I don’t want to do anything to let my teammates down.”
The first-round game is set for 4:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to a second-round matchup at East Wilkes. Cornerstone enters with an 11-9 record, led by junior Morgan Kinney (.441, 17 RBI) and freshman pitcher Sidney Clark (8-2, 1.90 ERA). The Cardinals placed third in the Central Tar Heel 1A Conference.
Stott and Lynch could have much to say in how Tuesday’s game goes. The two seniors have played key roles at the plate and in the field this season for Polk County, with Stott hitting .422 with 10 RBI and Lynch at .400 with 20 RBI.
“Both have done a great job offensively and defensively for us,” said Polk County head coach Jamie Thompson. “They’ve been steady, solid. Ansley hasn’t commited an error all year and I think Morgan has one. For the middle of your defense, that’s big.
“They’re our number two and three hitters in the lineup. They’re both batting over .400. They’ve been leading by example.”
The two seniors have one other thing in common – family support. Stott’s father, former Polk County head baseball coach Ty Stott, has served as the Wolverines’ scorekeeper this season, and members of Stott’s extended family have been in attendance at games throughout the season.
Lynch, the younger sister of former Polk County athletes Ashley Lynch Self and Amber Lynch Styles, has had a large support group throughout the season featuring her sisters, their spouses and her parents.
“I call them my fam club,” Lynch said. “They’re everything to me. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I love looking for them being in the stands and always being there.”
“It’s been a funny situation with my dad because he doesn’t want to sit in the dugout so that I don’t see the faces he makes,” Stott laughed. “But it’s been fun having him around. That has been special to me.”
Both Lynch and Stott say their entire senior seasons have been special. And while both are looking forward to college – Stott at the University of North Carolina, Lynch at UNC Asheville – they’re in no hurry for the fun to end.
“It’s been special,” Lynch said. “I’m trying not to think about the end and just thinking about the positive things.”
“This season has been my best, both how I’ve played and how much fun it’s been,” Stott said. “Coach Thompson has made it fun and an enjoyable experience. I’ve had fun being a captain with Ansley and making memories.”