LUMBERTON — When LeeAnn Nobles transferred to Lumberton High School from Freedom Christian Academy in Fayetteville prior to her sophomore year, she wasted no time making a lasting impression on Mackie Register.
The head softball coach for the Lady Pirates knew he landed a special player when she donned the maroon and gold for the first time.
“The first day I saw her play, I was pleasantly surprised,” said Register, who is also the school’s athletic director. “A lot of the time you get people transferring in and they never live up to the hype. She lived up to the hype and more. She fit in right away.”
Nobles on Friday took a major step in continuing her softball career after high school, signing her letter of intent to play at Louisburg College next year.
“It’s a small town. They care about you more,” Nobles said about her decision to join the Hurricanes. “I just like the small community.”
Louisburg is a two-year residential college located about two hours away from Lumberton. The Hurricanes compete in the NJCAA.
As of Friday, Nobles has the third-highest batting average for the Lady Pirates this season at .483. She leads the team in doubles with nine.
Reigister said Nobles has the intangibles needed to succeed at the next level, both on and off of the field.
“The first thing is the education part. She’s got to make sure that she can handle the freedom they have,” Register said. “She’ll be able to handle it. She’s very mature.”
Nobles is already looking ahead to what she can accomplish in the classroom. She plans to earn a degree in biology and attend dental school.
On the field, her well-rounded skillset will beneficial as Nobles transitions to the next level.
“She can hit the ball well. She’s solid on defense too,” Register said. “It goes unnoticed a lot of the time, how good she is defensively. She can definitely swing the bat well and hit for power too.”
Nobles has four home runs this season and nine total homers over her three years with the Lady Pirates.
She is an integral part of a talented lineup that includes a pair of future Division I softball players. Junior Morgan Britt is committed to UNCW, and classmate Madison Canady is committed to Radford.
The Lady Pirates will miss her presence in the middle of the lineup next season, but several individuals in attendance at the signing also applauded her involvement with the athletic department, as well as her role as an ambassador for the school.
“She does a lot outside of school,” principal Larry Obeda said. “She’s not only in the softball program, but she helps Mackie (administratively).”
“She could probably be the athletic director here for a little while if she really wanted to,” he said with a smile.
Nobles said she hopes she will be remembered not only for being a high-caliber player, but also for “never showing an attitude.”
As teammates, family members and friends gathered to take pictures with Nobles after the signing ceremony, Register reflected on how valuable Nobles has been to the team and school as a whole.
“She’s been a big plus not only as a softball player, she’s a good student. She comes from a good family. She’s been a plus this whole program,” he said.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.