By Jacob Kisamore
Special to The Alamance News
Eastern High School graduate Maddie Lawson is taking her talents to New Brunswick, New Jersey this fall, where she will continue both her academic and softball careers at Rutgers University.
“I’m a bit nervous about being so far away from home, but I’m also really excited about it,” Lawson said.
Lawson, a four-year starter at shortstop for Eastern Alamance, had a prolific softball career.
According to MaxPreps, Lawson had five home runs, 51 RBI, and a batting average of .472 during her time with the Eagles. She also pitched during her freshman season, throwing 97 innings with 127 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.08.
She was named to the 2018, 2019, and 2021 all-North Carolina softball teams (the 2020 softball season was cancelled due to COVID-19, thus there were no awards) and was the 2021 NCSCA 3A co-district player of the year along with Southern Alamance sophomore Greta Hessenthaler.
Lawson originally committed to play softball at NC State while in the eighth grade, but during her freshman year of high school, she altered her plans.
Due to a 2018 NCAA rule change, softball recruits are no longer allowed to speak with college coaches until their junior year of high school. When NC State’s softball program made changes to its coaching staff before the 2019 season, Lawson’s freshman year at Eastern, she decided it was best to reopen her recruitment.
“Things just kind of fell through there, and I wasn’t the type of player that the new coaches were looking for,” Lawson said. “When I opened back up my recruiting process, it came down to Duke, East Carolina, and Rutgers.”
She narrowed down her list to Rutgers and East Carolina. Ultimately, Rutgers’ academics served as the tiebreaker between the schools for Lawson, who plans to major in exercise science.
“At the end of the day, I loved both coaching staffs and the opportunities in athletics were there for both, and it really came down to academics,” Lawson said.
“It’s been my dream since I was a little girl to play softball at this level. I’m super excited about the competition, it will be completely different than what I’ve seen before.” – maddie lawson
Lawson received a full athletic scholarship from the school and is looking forward to playing in the Big Ten Conference, one of the most prestigious and competitive athletic leagues in the country.
“It’s been my dream since I was a little girl to play softball at this level,” Lawson said. “I’m super excited about the competition, it will be completely different than what I’ve seen before.”
She will play shortstop for the Scarlet Knights and hopes to make an immediate impact on the field for the team.
“I’m definitely hoping to help out the team this year,” Lawson said. “I’m going to work hard and look to find a starting spot.”
While Eastern Alamance came up short in the NCHSAA 3A playoffs this season, losing to Southern Alamance in the second round, Lawson said she will look back on her senior season fondly.
“Beating Western Alamance twice this year was great,” Lawson said. “And so was spending so much time with my teammates and working so hard on and off the field. That will last with me forever.”
Softball runs in the Lawson family, as both Maddie’s sisters also play the sport. Older sister Morgan was also a four-year starter for the Eagles from 2015-2019 and is now a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she is a member of the school’s club softball team, while younger sister Molly is currently an outfielder for the Eagles and will be a junior in the fall.
“We’ve played together since we were young but being able to play with them on a team that means so much to a community was awesome,” Lawson said.
Lawson’s favorite softball memory came in 2019, when Eastern Alamance won its first ever NCHSAA 3A softball state championship. During game three of the championship series against Central Cabarrus, Maddie recorded a single to get on base in the top of the eighth inning before sister Morgan hit a walk-off home run to score the two sisters and win the championship for the Eagles.
“That moment meant the world and will always stick with me, it was by far the most incredible experience I’ve had,” Lawson said.
Outside of softball, Lawson was a four-year starter and captain for the Eagles’ volleyball team, earning all-conference honors three times. She also was a member of Eastern Alamance’s National Honor Society, student council, and Dream Team, a mentoring and community outreach program for North Carolina high school athletes.
Lawson said she enjoyed her four years at Eastern Alamance and hopes her legacy will live on at the school as more than a great softball player.
“The people there are so loving, it’s like a family,” Lawson said. “Hopefully, I’ll be remembered more for the type of person I am rather than being just an athlete.”