Harrell has been a true leader|Solid senior to play hoops at Brunswick

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sports Editor

WILLIAMSTON — Cassie Harrell isn’t ready to pick up a basketball just yet. For now, she’d like to play with the smaller, yellow ball for just a bit longer.
The Williamston senior, who will play basketball at Brunswick Community College next season, helped lead the Tigers to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A state softball championships. Harrell has done it with her bat, her glove and, maybe most importantly, her mouth.
“Having a younger team, I know they look at me as a leader,” Harrell said. “I have to watch my actions and my words.”
Williamston coach Damon Hayes is glad to have a player like Harrell being a leader inside and outside the dugout.
“That’s something you can’t teach,” Hayes said. “The accomplishments of what we’ve done is because of what (the seniors) have done leadership-wise.”
Harrell has been brilliant throughout the playoffs. She’s knocked in at least one run in each game, including a home run against Jamesville in the second round.
The senior second baseman pushes herself to be the best she can be at all times.
“It’s just my motivation and drive,” Harrell said.
Harrell’s accomplishments helped land the Tigers in Walnut Creek for the first time in fastpitch history.
The Tigers (18-7) will play Midway (20-6) for the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A East Regional championship on Friday. The game will begin at 5 p.m.
The winner will face the survivor between two-time defending state champion East Surry (24-6) and perennial power Swain County (22-4) at 7:30 p.m., with the losers meeting in an elimination game at the same time.
A loser’s bracket final will be played at 11 a.m. Saturday. The championship game will be held at 1:30 p.m. If a second game is needed, it will be played at 4 p.m.
“We’re just thinking of them as another game,” Harrell said. “We just want to go out there, do the little things and get things done.”
The Tigers, the second seed from the Four Rivers Conference, came up with some impressive wins on the playoff road to reach the state championships.
That included an extra-inning victory over Jamesville, the Tideland Conference champions, and a win over Southside, the Four Rivers champions, for the sectional title. The Seahawks had beaten the Tigers both times during the regular season.
“We went in with a lot of confidence,” Harrell said. “I think (Southside) went in with confidence, too, but I think we just wanted it more.”
Harrell certainly did her part in helping the Tigers win. The senior belted an RBI triple that tied the game at 2-2. Williamston went on to win 4-2.
“My technique was great,” Harrell said of the big at bat. “I knew when I hit that ball that I had done something. I was just pushing myself to get around those bases.”
Harrell was hoping for her second home run of the playoffs, but Hayes held her up at third. The senior won’t let her coach forget it.
“I was mad because I wanted to go,” Harrell said with a laugh. “He said that if I would have gotten out, my emotions would have gotten to me.”
Harrell, who is hitting .404 with a home run, a team-high 23 RBIs and runs scored, seems to get a bit emotional when she talks about her teammates. She’s not ready for this softball ride to be finished just yet.
“My teammates are my world,” Harrell said. “We’re all like a puzzle. We all come together. Without one of them, we’re nothing.”
Harrell has mixed feelings about finishing up her high school career.
“It’s getting to be that time,” she said. “I’m glad we got to where we are now. I just want to go ahead and finish it and come out with a good win.”
Harrell is helping the Tigers go out in style. The school is merging with Jamesville to form the Riverside Knights. Knowing this is the final bow for the Tigers, Harrell is excited to be a part of it.
“It means a lot,” Harrell said. “We have great community support behind us. Knowing we are the last team competing at Williamston High School has given us motivation to get things done.
“We went to states in basketball, but we still have unfinished business for Williamston. I want to go out there and get things done.”