Lail on the rise: Mayson Lail takes away invaluable lessons from time with Hickory Post 48’s junior and senior softball clubs

 Hickory Post 48 senior softball’s Mayson Lail (8) on the mound during the 2019 Area 1 state playoff semifinal game against North Gaston Post 266 on August 1. (O-N-E file photo by Marcus Smith)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

In anything, it takes time and practice to hone one’s craft and it’s not any different in sports. In order to be the best, one has to push his or herself to the limit to reach the highest potential.

For Mayson Lail, St. Stephens High rising sophomore, it just so happened to be softball. She pushed herself with the Indians’ team and this summer she pushed herself with American Lady Legion Fastpitch softball.

With the Indians, she appeared in 21 games, going 4-9 in her first season. In 136 innings pitched, she allowed 74 hits and 29 earned runs (1.96 ERA), walked 26 batters while also striking out 182 batters.

Her skill in her freshman season led for her to be named to the 2019 3A/4A All-Northwestern team alongside teammates, Macey Pennell and Sadie Watts.

Only a rising sophomore at St. Stephens, Lail hasn't even reached her full capabilities.

Going into the summer, Lail had the rare pleasure of not only competing on Hickory Post 48’s junior team, but she also earned her way onto Post 48’s senior squad. She has been on the rise as a pitcher and first baseman, but her real strength seemed to be her presence on the mound for both clubs.

Also during her time this season, she participated in the Powerade State Games of North Carolina tournament at Hornets Nest Park beginning on Tuesday, June 18, having played the night before with Post 48’s junior team. If that doesn’t show her dedication, then what else could.

She would start the first game on the mound of Post 48's doubleheader against Watauga County Post 130 in a 5-0 win. She pitched the first four innings where she had a no-hitter while striking out nine batters and walking one. Lail made the most of the few appearances she did have at pitcher for the junior squad.

However, most of her time would be spent with Post 48's senior team. In eight appearances on the mound, Lail pitched through 31 innings with 49 strikeouts and had a 1.13 ERA. This included a breakout performance in the Area 1 state playoffs in a quarterfinal win over Wilkes Post 31, 6-1, in which she struck out batter after batter with 16.

“My experience playing legion ball for both the junior and senior team is one I will never forget,” said Lail. “I have made so many new friends through this while playing...The senior team's competition was a lot harder than the junior team's. Playing on the junior team would definitely be a good start. I would highly recommend it to everyone.”

As far as her role on both squads, she said she really needed to step up as a leader on the junior team since she was one of the oldest. On the senior squad, Lail was the only rising sophomore playing with teammates who were either going to college or already in college.

For both teams, she would pitch but she also played some third base with the junior squad and first base with the senior club.

“Playing with older girls is a lot of fun and I trust that they always know where to go with the ball,” she said. “I feel like playing with older girls makes me compete at a higher level....I think that pitching for both teams helped for when I head back to St. Stephens. I was able to face players who were a lot older than me. The players were very experienced and my goal was to get them to pop-up, ground out, or strikeout.”

Lail also said that the coaching staff on both teams had confidence in her which makes her compete better.

“I knew that all of my coaches believed in me, and as a pitcher, is very important,” she said. “The coaches on the senior team helped me with what pitches to throw at what time judging by the plane of the other team's swing and whether they pull the ball or step out.”

Lail also talked about veteran presence on the senior team and one teammate in particular gave her great advice: Emma Lay (Surry Community College and Maiden High product.)

“She was a very positive player on the team and kept us focused on the game,” she said. “After each inning that I would pitch, she would help me with whatever she saw because she was one of our catchers.”

Prior to the playoffs, Lail earned the opportunity to compete in the 2019 Western Region All-Star festivities on July 18 at North Davidson High School, along with more experienced teammates, Payton Goble and Madison Rowe.

“Mayson is a great kid on and off the field,” said Post 48 senior head coach, Todd Smith about Lail's time on his team. “She is one of those players that coaches would love to have a whole team full of. She does whatever you need of her, but when the game is on the line she likes to be on the mound.

“She would pitch every game if you needed her to. That is just how she is. It is like she flips that switch and becomes a beast out there. Nothing rattles her. It is like she has ice in her veins.”

Smith said that even though she'll only be a sophomore at St. Stephens, he's really excited to see what the future holds for her.

“I've seen a lot of great pitchers through the years in our area like Lexi Shubert, Katie Baker, Taylor Sigmon (Shook) and Chelsea Wilkinson. She is very comparable to them,” he said. “They all went on to do great things at the college level and hopefully her future will follow theirs. All I can say to the lucky college coach that gets her is you are getting a great one.”

*Lail's St. Stephens' stats updated/corrected at 7:34 p.m. on Wednesday, August 14*