Wayne County Post 11 American Legion softball team

The inaugural Wayne County Post 11 American Legion softball team. Front row from left: Cassandra Lassiter; Hannah Burress; Megan Bryant; Alyssa Smothers; Rylee Joe Myers; Mackenzie Bryant; and Caroline Summerlin. Back row from left: Graclyn Massey; Summer Nelsen; Cana Shrock; Mackenzie Amodeo; Laine Marak and Amber Pfenning.

American Legion softball is coming to Wayne County.

Wayne County Post 11 begins its inaugural season tonight against Kinston Post 43 and will play its home games at Rosewood High School. The team is made up of student-athletes from Wayne, Johnston and Nash counties.

The Post 11 roster includes Cassandra Lassiter, Hannah Burress, Megan Bryant, Alyssa Smothers, Rylee Joe Myers, Mackenzie Bryant, Caroline Summerlin, Graclyn Massey, Summer Nelsen, Cana Shrock, Mackenzie Amodeo, Amber Pfenning, Le’Onna Nelson and Taylor Jones.

“We have a couple of girls from Princeton and one girl from Nash County because they don’t have a team,” Wayne County Post 11 head coach T.J. Smothers said. “We should be competitive, and it’s always fun to get girls that play against each other all year along and get them together and play.

“We had tryouts and everything, the whole nine yards.”

In December, the first-year head coach was approached about forming a team in Wayne County, and after thinking about it for a month, Smothers decided it was time to organize a team.

“We are one of the first teams in the eastern part of the state,” Smothers said. “We’re going to take off running so to speak.”

American Legion softball in North Carolina started in 2017 with just 10 teams and has quickly grown. This year, there are 60 teams participating.

“This has been a long time coming,” Smothers said. “It should have been going on for years. Staring in the western part of the state, they had 10 teams the first year, 28 teams the second year and now we’ve grown to 60 teams. So, hopefully, in three or four more years, maybe all 100 counties will have a team.

“That would be cool. That would be really cool.”

Post 11 is playing 22 games this season, 13 games on the road and nine games at home.

Wayne County’s conference has four teams: Fayetteville County, Cumberland County, Johnston County and Hoke County. Post 11 will also play nine nonconference games against Jacksonville, West Carteret, and Granville County.

“Our conference is kind of spread out, so we’re going to have to some traveling,” Smothers said. “We play those three teams four times each.”

The final regular season game for the senior team is July 25. Playoffs are Aug. 2-4. Every team makes the playoffs, but a team’s conference record determines its seeding. The state championship series is August 12-14 in Shelby.