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STANHOPE — For three years, Carrigan Ewers has been a force for her Southern Nash High varsity softball team and now the Ladybirds senior hopes to continue that role for the Louisburg College softball program.
In front of a media-center audience that included her parents, Laura and Bill Ewers of Spring Hope; her two sisters, Caitlin and Sarah, and numerous teammates, classmates, coaches and teachers, Ewers made her college decision official Friday afternoon as she signed her National Letter of Intent to join the Hurricanes.
Ewers, who has been named the 3-A Big East Conference Pitcher of the Year each of the last two seasons, joins a Louisburg program that reached the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championship tournament in 2019. The Hurricanes finished 32-9 overall and with a No. 19 national ranking.
Ewers said that she received scholarship offers from NCAA Division II programs Barton College and the University of Mount Olive, where older sister, Caitlin, played, as well as NCAA Div. III power Virginia Wesleyan, as well as recruiting interest from such NCAA Div. I programs as North Carolina State, Appalachian State, UNC Wilmington, Charlotte, Presbyterian and Winthrop, among others.
However, she elected to sign with Louisburg in hopes of finding a Div. I program upon her graduation from the junior college in two years.
“Their program’s really good and I am looking forward to going and playing at Louisburg and transferring out to a different school to play softball,” she said.
Ewers said that while she hasn’t settled on a major, she is considering elementary education and nursing.
A three-time all-conference selection, Ewers has been a primary producer at the plate and in the pitching circle for the Ladybirds since she arrived on campus.
“She’s been a day 1 starter,” said Scott Collie, who took over as head coach in Ewers’ freshman season in 2017. “I think she’s started every game for the last three years except for one. She really took over as our primary pitcher when conference started her freshman year.”
The last two seasons, Ewers has led Southern Nash to the Big East title and into the state playoffs, making it to the third round in 2019.
“As a sophomore, everything just kind of fell into place,” Collie said. “She had a 39-inning scoreless streak as a sophomore and really started to develop and gain confidence as a pitcher.”
The turning point, he said, came during an early conference outing against Franklinton after Ewers gave up a couple of runs in the first inning. Collie said that when she got back to the dugout, he told her to focus on throwing strike 1, something Ewers took to heart.
“It was like her whole mentality changed and, instead of focusing on the big picture, she could concentrate on something,” he said.
It was just a matter of developing into a pitcher, Ewers explained.
“My freshman year was my first being serious about pitching,” she said. “My second year we really focused on getting ahead of the batter and not messing around.”
The last two seasons she has gone 22-9 with a 2.01 ERA and 274 strikeouts in 191 1/3 innings pitched. Ewers has become a potent hitter as well, last year hitting .394 with a team-high 29 RBIs and six home runs.
“She really came out as a power hitter last year,” Collie said. “She’s always had power but she really started driving the ball last year.”
Ewers plans to pitch and hit at Louisburg but she knows she needs to improve.
“I think I need to get better at mastering my pitches and my changeup — specifically, my changeup!” she said. She lists fastball, screwball, curveball, drop ball, rise ball, split-seam and changeup in her repertoire of pitches.
While Ewers is excited about her future at Louisburg and beyond that, she is even more jazzed about her immediate future — her senior season at Southern Nash.
“I’m so excited!” she said. “My goal is to go deep in the playoffs and maybe even win a state championship. That’s my goal every year but it’s really my goal for this year, being my last year. … I really hope to keep going.”