SWE’s Deal sets sail with Flying Fleet

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PINETOPS — Megan Deal’s softball coaches, at each level, have quickly detected her disdain for losing.

“When we lose, I feel like we could have done more,” she explained.

And “do more” is the intent of Deal, the daughter of Creig and Donna Deal of the Crisp community, during her senior season at SouthWest Edgecombe High and at the next level with Erskine (South Carolina) College of the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas.

Following an informal ceremony in the school media center Wednesday afternoon, the 17-year-old Deal, the starting catcher for the Lady Cougars, signed a National Letter of Intent to accept a softball scholarship with the Lady Fleet and expects to be one of eight newcomers brought in by Coach Aileen Hawkins.

The turnout included second-year SouthWest head softball coach Richard Spence, SouthWest Athletic Director Sandra Langley, James Barrington, Deal’s travel coach with the Carolina Flames 18-Under team; and Tarboro head softball coach Riley Hurdle, who is Deal’s uncle.

Deal, who possesses a 3.5 grade-point average and plans to study pre-medicine, chose Erskine over Barton College, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Catawba. Barton is also a Conference Carolinas member.

“I fell in love with the coach,” Deal expressed. “She makes everything exciting. She is an outspoken lady.”

Last season, Hawkins, a 40-year coaching veteran, directed the Lady Fleet to a 12-8 conference record and 20-26 overall mark.

In the meantime, Deal and the Lady Cougars finished fourth in the rugged 2-A Eastern Plains Conference and lost in the first round of the playoffs to North Johnston.

Deal, a slap hitter from the left side, batted .515 (34 for 66) with 11 runs batted in and three doubles. She went 15 for 15 in stolen bases (team leader) in being proclaimed all-conference. Deal struck out just four times and, through three seasons, has played in every Lady Cougars varsity softball game.

She reported she has been playing softball since age 7 and has been thinking about playing in college for the last five years.

Dean noted she prefers catching because “I see the whole field and I feel like I’m in charge.”

Spence hints Deal will remain at the top of the lineup her senior year and be the primary catcher. However, she may be called upon for leadership and spot duty as a pitcher and shortstop.

The SouthWest coach describes the Erskine recruit as quick, strong and a hustler with a strong arm.

“She has a lot going for her,” Spence said, “and hopefully that continues. And ... she doesn’t like to lose.”

Barrington hails Deal as a scrappy player whose game is built around speed.

“I feel great about (her decision),” he added. “She’s in great hands. She will be in a place where she will have the opportunity to step on the field early. I am really looking forward to her making a difference early.

“And she doesn’t like to lose.”

“I’m very, very competitive,” Deal responded with a grin.

Her parents are “tickled she wants to play” and Creig Deal said: “We want her to go to school; that’s the most important part.”

Deal acknowledges her game is speed and speaks of developing her slap-hitting prowess over a period three years.

“I need to get faster and stronger,” she contended, “but my (first-year) goal is to start.

“I feel like I am really blessed softball has gotten me this far. It has given me a big family.”