Freshman pitcher Megan Powell reflects on her record-setting first year heading into the conference championship

This season has meant big things for the Lees-McRae softball team, and at the center of it all has been freshman Nursing major Megan Powell. Powell has made waves and set records already in her first year on the team, becoming the first Bobcat to record two no-hitters in a single week and the first Conference Carolinas pitcher to record multiple no-hitters in a single semester since 2013.

Powell is just getting started, and with the 2022 conference championship on the horizon, Powell and Head Softball Coach Kendall Fuller are excited to finish out the season strong. Powell and Fuller reflect on this year’s achievements and what the future holds.

Talk a bit about your relationship with softball. When did you start playing and why?

MP: I started playing because of my family. My sister played softball, and my brother played baseball, so we were just kind of a sports family. I started playing when I was about six or seven.

When did you know that you wanted to play softball at a collegiate level?

MP: It has always been my dream to play college softball. I think that’s most everyone’s dream if you’re really serious about it. I got serious around the time I started playing in a 12U league. The league depends on your age group so that you’re playing against girls the same age as you, so I was about 12 when I started thinking about where I wanted to go to college and finding my dream school.

What drew you to Lees-McRae during that search?

MP: Firstly, the scenery—I love the scenery—but also the culture as soon as I got here. Everyone was so nice, and since it’s small and I’m kind of a shy person I found it really easy to talk to people here.

Now that we’re nearing the end of your freshman year how has your relationship with the sport developed?

MP: In high school it was more about playing for fun, but I was always the one on the team who wanted to win. I took it more seriously than a lot of the other girls then, but that seriousness is necessary now that I’m here. Now every game is important, every pitch is important.

KF: She’s probably the most competitive person on our team. She brings this competitive energy that we really need, and just competes in every rep at practice. Getting into playing games is an adjustment for every freshman; it’s just different than high school ball. It’s a lot more involved than what they’re used to, and as we’re getting into the games in the spring, she has started to realize every pitch is important. I’ve just seen that competitive energy grow over the course of the season.

What is the significance of these records that you have already been able to set?

KF: No-hitters are super rare. Just for a point of reference, for the MLB, there were nine no-hitters thrown in the whole 2021 season. Those teams are playing 150 games a season and there are 30 teams, so a no-hitter is a big deal. Not only did she do it once, but she did it again with the help of some of her teammates, against one of the best teams in our league. It’s a pretty big accomplishment, let alone for a freshman.

What do you see for the future of your softball career over the next three years at Lees-McRae?

MP: It has always been my dream to go pro. I know I could do it, but I don’t think it’s in my reach right now. Right now, I just want to keep winning. I want to win three more rings, and I would love to become an All-American. I’m really striving for that, but if we’re winning, I don’t really care about pitching no-hitters.

What is it like balancing such a demanding major as Nursing with the demands of softball?

MP: When I get onto the field I try not to think of schoolwork or anything else I have to do after. I try to focus on myself and the team. Being there together and playing and bonding is like an outlet for all the schoolwork I have to do.

On Saturday, April 23 the team played their last-regular season game of the year. Having already secured their spot in the Conference Carolinas championship that begins Thursday, April 28, the team was able to sweep Erksine in an impressive doubleheader showing, scoring a total of 12 runs across both games and only giving up two total earned runs to their opponents. The Bobcats will enter the postseason tournament as the No. 8 seed, facing No. 9 North Greenville at noon in Duncan, South Carolina.

That game gave Powell an opportunity to compare notes with Kara Cunningham, a former Lees-McRae softball player with a similar story to Powell’s. As a talented pitcher, hitter, and nursing major, Cunningham is now the only All-American player in Lees-McRae softball history. Cunningham returned to the field for the official retiring of her number.

Powell has big dreams to follow in Cunningham’s footsteps toward the All-American title, and she is well on her way to proving herself.

Support the softball team throughout the championship tournament from Thursday, April 28−Saturday, April 30

By Maya JarrellApril 25, 2022