Willis will serve as an assistant coach on the East team for the Senior East/West Showcase on Thursday at West Forsyth High School in Clemmons.
“It’s a real honor,” Willis said, who is in the process of moving to Asheville with his wife. “It makes you feel like everything you have worked for to get the girls ready all comes to light.”
Willis, who specialized as Swett’s infield and hitting coach, was asked to join the East dugout by head coach Kellie Aldridge, leader of nearby South View.
“She said, ‘You guys at Purnell were the best hitting team we faced all year so I want you to do that with our girls (for the East)’,” Willis said.
The numbers say it all.
Swett, which claimed the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles before bowing out in the second round of the 4A state playoffs, boasted five players with a batting average .350 or higher and scored a whopping 212 runs, more than doubling the number it allowed — 101.
The sluggers who helped lead the hitting-brigade for the Lady Rams this past season were centerfielder Kayla Lewis and thirdbaseman Mo Dial, all-county seniors who were selected as members of the East.
They will be joined by fellow Robeson County seniors Kacey Dent of Lumberton High School and Chelsea Jacobs of South Robeson who were both all-county honorable mentions. Additionally, Swett sophomore Colleen Chavis was named to the Underclassmen Region 4 team that will be coached by Scotland’s Patrick Williams and Jackie Amos.
Other notable players earning a nod to the 15-player East team were Pinecrest’s Lindsay Parkin, Jack Britt’s Markell Wylie and McKenzie Weaver and Pine Forest’s Alex Wickman.
“It’s a great opportunity and a privilege to get the chance to coach Mo and Kayla one more time before heading back to Asheville,” Willis said. “It’s also a great achievement for the school and for the county. I will remember this for the rest of my life.”
Willis and his East counterparts have been circulating practices at a number of high schools, including Swett, South View and North Brunswick, before trekking to Clemmons for Thursday’s showdown.
“It’s all about getting everybody on the same page,” Willis said. “We’re going to be pretty good. Solid defense. We got some speed … Of course it will probably come down to how we hit.”
The East and West play a best-of-3 series to determine the gold medal winner. Game 1 starts at 2 p.m., followed by a rematch at 4 and rubber match, if necessary, at 6.
Added Willis: “We feel pretty good about our chances. We got a strong lineup so we got a shot.”