Seahawk softball sisterhood: 3 sets of sisters emblematic of team chemistry, success
With a 27-win season season so far, Coach Norton credits off-the-field bonding to creating on-the-field success
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WWAY) – It was hard to verify if there has ever been a college softball with 3 sets of sisters that are different ages all playing on the same team. For UNCW, their unprecedented sisterhood is not metaphorical, like it is for most teams. It’s literal. Between the Pearces, Joneses, and Winsteads – the Seahawks say they are all one big family.
“Sisterhood has permeated throughout this team,” said head coach Kristi Norton. “They just play for each other, play with each other, and they hold – every single person holds every individual accountable.”
Usually, sisterhood is metaphorical for college softball teams. But for @UNCWsoftball it’s literal. Not 1, not 2, but 3 sets of sisters are on the squad! I caught up with the Joneses, Pearces, and Winsteads to ask them the hard-hitting questions 😏 pic.twitter.com/7EvLS0B2KC
— Jake Eichstaedt (@Jake25Eich) April 29, 2022
Casey has two at-bats for the Seahawks his season after dealing with injuries. Mary Whit is dealing with an injury of her own, and has not taken the field in 2022.
“We’ve known a lot of the other sisters – ten years or so,” said Casey. “It’s been really fun getting to come to practice every day knowing that we’ve been together for a long time.”
“We hangout all the time. (Mary Whit) will just send me a text ‘Hey can I come to your house and study?’… She’ll bring her friends with her, I’ll have my friends with me. The team chemistry is so much better and we all get along really well because of it.”
“I think we are closer being here,” said Mary Whit. “We’ve gotten to see each other grow from all the stuff we’ve been through. We’re here for each other.”
Mary Whit actually graduated early from Rocky Mount Academy to be able to suit up with Casey for her senior season.
Amberlyn has pitched 40 innings in 2022 with a stellar 1.58 ERA with 4 wins and 3 saves. She also has a 22:9 strike out to walk ratio. Arial has been injured since April 10, but was batting .292 as a first-year player with 12 RBI’s. Her season is not officially over with the injury, and hopes she can return if (she says when) the team makes a deep run in the post season.
“Amy and I have always grown up training together and to finally get this opportunity feels unreal,” says Arial. “I like looking across the field thinking to myself ‘Dang … it’s crazy we all grew up having the same dream and we are all getting to live that through each other at the same place.”
“Every one on the field, of course we all feel like sisters. But having your actual sister out there while I’m pitching gives me a different sense of comfort,” says Amberlyn. “A lot of us knew each other before hand and it’s like ‘Wow we made it and we are all here together at the top level.'”
Arial has made diving catches while Amberlyn is pitching, which the junior appreciates. But even when Amberlyn is the only Pearce on the field while she pitches, she can still feel (and definitely hear) the presence of Arial.
“With me being hurt in the dug out, I am her biggest fan,” Arial says of Amberlyn. “I’m screaming … I’ll be at the end of the dugout and see Amy go pitch and have to move to the front. ‘Bout to scream my lungs out. Even if I lose my voice, it’s worth it.”
Emily is one of the best young pitchers in the country. The freshman righty is among the Top 25 student-athletes in the running for the 2022 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I Freshman of the Year award. The Bunn, N.C, product has recorded a 1.90 ERA across 99.1 innings this season and limited opponents to a .184 batting average. Winstead’s 9.7 strikeouts-per-seven innings clip rank fifth in the nation among freshman qualifiers.
Elizabeth’s role is growing. She has started every game in the outfield since April 2nd, adding 10 POs since then and her batting average has increased a lot since as well – currently sitting at .273.
The two credit beach days and birthday dinners to help bonding. Just this week, they will have gone to El Cerro four times.
“Most people don’t know we’re sisters. Our coach just found out like two weeks ago,” joked Emily. “They just don’t realize because of how close and how easy we are to mesh with other people.”