“A left-hander playing second base? You’ve got to be kidding!”
That’s the reaction of a lot of softball fans when they see South Granville senior infielder Erin Boone in warmups.
But it’s no joke.
A four-year all-conference player who’s heading to Lenoir-Rhyne in the fall, she’s one of a pair of senior co-captains, along with catcher Karlee Michalina, who lead the Vikings into the Eastern 2A Finals.
South Granville (22-2) will go into Tuesday’s opener of the best-of-3 series against Northern Carolina conference rival Bunn, the only team to beat the Vikings this season. The Vikings, who have won seven state softball titles, finished second in the state in 2013.
A big reason for that success has been leadership from the 5-foot-3 Boone, who is quite polished at turning the backward double play and has four errors in four seasons.
“I’ve always played everywhere, but Coach (Jackie Day) said second base was where he needed me,” said Boone, who occasionally spells starting pitcher Miranda Barker. “He likes us to have our own style and he critiques it. I started doing a spinning thing doing double plays, and he said, ‘If it works for you and you can stay on point and not make too many errors, stick with it.’”
The numbers she has produced as leadoff hitter are harder to believe – a .544 career average with 34 doubles, 12 triples, 14 homers, 145 runs scored and 96 RBI.
“Everybody always wants to know why we play a left-handed second baseman, but she gets the job done,” said Day, who also coaches her on a travel team called the North Carolina Dominators. “I don’t know what position she’s going to play in college, but she’ll hit.
“Erin is a good athlete and works on her game all the time. She hit .629 for this regular season. She’s able to see what the defense is going to give her, and she’ll drive the ball low or in the dirt.”
Boone, who first hit the diamond when she was 3 years old and played in a T-Ball World Series, played volleyball and basketball in middle school but said she decided to concentrate on softball in hopes of playing at the college level.
“I looked at D-one and D-three schools, but as soon as I visited (Division II Lenoir-Rhyne) and the coach (Shena Hollar) said she was interested in me I fell in love with it,” explained Boone, daughter of Rodney and Connie Boone and sister of Hawley Middle School catcher Renee. “I ate a meal with the team and it was done – that’s where I was going.”
Boone, who wants to be a pediatric nurse, said she loves working with children and people with disabilities. One of her projects was helping with a “Girls on the Run” 5K at Creedmoor Elementary, while another was helping a wheelchair-bound mentally challenged man she met while volunteering at the Murdoch Center in Butner attend a Vikings softball game and get team autographs.
“He had told me he liked basketball and baseball, and when I told him I played softball he said he really wanted to come to a game,” Boone explained with a smile. “After he saw us play he said he never wanted to see another boys’ game again.”
Of course if she gets her wish, he will have seen the state champions.
“We’ve got to keep up our team energy,” she said. “If we keep having faith, it will come. We have a good synergy. Finishing as runners-up two years ago kind of stunk. We want to win and the younger girls want to win for us.”