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May 11—LUMBERTON — August Smith didn’t even know she had a chance to win the Sandhills Athletic Conference Softball Player of the Year award.

Maybe, Pirates coach Mackie Register suggested, that’s why she won.

The Pirates’ third baseman and senior leader helped the young team to a surprising second-half surge, earning recognition as the SAC’s best.

“I honestly didn’t even know that I was in the running for it,” Smith said. “When (Register) told me I was like, ‘what? Are you serious?’ I figured he was going to tell me I got All-Conference. But he told me ‘that’s probably why you got it, then, because you played the year without any pressure.'”

Smith did it all for the Pirates, hitting .489 with 18 runs, 19 RBIs, seven doubles, a triple, two home runs and two steals.

“I knew she was going to be solid for us this year, but I never expected her to have the year she had,” Register said. “She hit with power, she hit for average, she drove in runs, she scored runs; she was definitely the spark plug on the offense.”

After starting 2-4, Lumberton won six of its last eight games to nearly sneak into the 4A state playoffs, doing so with Smith’s leadership at the top of the order.

“I realized going into the year I was really the only player with varsity experience. So I realized I had to step up,” Smith said. “I knew that somebody had to set the tone for the younger girls; Reg has been talking to me all year, telling me I had step up, so I just went out there and had fun.”

The award finishes off a stellar three-sport high-school career for Smith, who played in an estimated 216 varsity games across volleyball, basketball and softball.

“I’m actually running track, but for this to be my last sport that I consider ‘my sport,’ to finish it off and kind of go out with a bang definitely makes it awesome,” Smith said.

“She was All-Conference in volleyball, All-Conference in basketball and All-Conference in softball,” Register said. “That’s a heck of a senior year for sure.”

Purnell Swett’s William Deese was named SAC Coach of the Year after leading the Rams to the conference title, a 12-3 record and the third round of the 4A state playoffs.

The Rams led the way with seven All-Conference selections: sophomore shortstop Nyla Mitchell (.439 batting average, 11 runs, 10 RBIs); senior outfielder Marijo Wilkes (.340 batting average, eight runs, nine RBIs, four doubles, four stolen bases, 1.000 fielding percentage); senior outfielder Kaitlyn Locklear (.432 batting average, 10 runs, 10 RBIs); junior pitcher Summer Bullard (8-2, 1.33 ERA, 79 strikeouts); junior pitcher/third baseman Chandra Locklear (.316 batting average, eight runs, six RBIs; 3-0, 1.30 ERA, 34 strikeouts); junior first baseman Angelica Locklear (.359 batting average, eight runs, 10 RBIs, two home runs); and senior outfielder Torrie Butler (.308 batting average, nine runs, four RBIs, three doubles).

In addition to Smith, Lumberton had three All-Conference selections: senior catcher Syniah Lancaster (.375 batting average, eight RBIs, seven stolen bases, .989 fielding percentage); freshman outfielder Aniya Merritt (.420 batting average, 17 runs, 1.000 fielding percentage); and freshman pitcher Halona Sampson (5-6, 3.44 ERA, 74 strikeouts).

Jack Britt’s Carlie Myrtle was named SAC Pitcher of the Year.

Other All-SAC selections included: Jack Britt’s Alyssa Brown, Cameron Deavon, Alyssa Norton and Ashton Fields; Scotland’s Kadence Sheppard, Raven Taylor, Olivia Hyatt, Sydnee Dial and Natalie Smith; Richmond’s Kenleigh Frye, Allyiah Swiney and Queston Leviner; Pinecrest’s Ashlee Ogburn and Aniyah Jackson; and Hoke County’s Alaina Goins.

Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.

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