Mooney leaves legacy on North Meck, state
by Staff Writer
Sarah Mooney slammed 19 home runs, more than most high school teams, this season.
Yet Mooney, a North Mecklenburg High senior, doesn’t consider herself a power hitter.
Battered pitchers might disagree, and Mooney has left a four-year string of them in her wake.
Her nickname “Boomer” screams power.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a power hitter,” said Mooney. “I’m a contact hitter.”
Indeed, it wasn’t only about the home runs.
Mooney, a catcher, set a N.C. High School Athletic Association season record with a .779 batting average.
She had 77 at-bats and 60 hits.
How often does a player – on any level – have a season with more home runs (19) than outs (17)?
Mix in her 55 runs batted in and the 19 home runs that tied the state single-season record, and it’s easy to see why Mooney is Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2011 Lake Norman-Area Softball Player of the Year.
“She is a coach’s dream, and probably a once-in-a-lifetime player,” North Mecklenburg coach Paul Kikta said. “She’s been working at being a good hitter her entire life. She’s a good example of if you work at something hard enough, you will get it.”
Mooney’s dedication was so serious that Kikta gave her a key to the softball field.
“She’d go work with her dad (Will) three or four times a week on hitting,” he said. “She worked hard.”
Mooney, who signed with James Madison University, said her softball spark came from trying to “be like my dad.” Will played high school baseball in West Virginia and then at Concord University (W.Va.).
Early on, her drive was evident. The skills weren’t.
“I couldn’t hit my hat size when I was little,” Mooney said with a laugh. “It was my second year, I guess, playing 8-and-under when it got better.”
Her skills improved steadily to make her an All-American as a junior in high school. It’s likely she’ll repeat the honor when the teams are announced in July.
Mooney’s 19 home runs tied the state season mark held by Dallas Heaton of Eastern Randolph, and her 37 career home runs set the state record.
Mooney’s .566 career batting average is the fourth-highest in state history. Her 55 RBIs were second-most in a season. The 60 hits in a season are fourth-best in state annals, and her 171 career hits are fifth-best.
How does Mooney explain her hitting dominance?
“Practice,” she said. “A coach of mine, Marci Turso, taught me that you can only be as good as what you put in outside of practice. Everyone practices, but what puts you above is what you do away from the team practices.”
Kikta often bucked convention and batted Mooney in the lead-off spot. That way, pitchers couldn’t easily pitch around her. It also gave Mooney more at-bats than if she’d been in the No. 3 or 4 spot.
“Countless times, her getting that extra at-bat won us games,” Kikta said. “Her hitting technique is amazing, and she can adjust. Her bat speed is unbelievable.
“It was tough at the (team) banquet to lose her. A great personality. Off the field, she’d always be in the coach’s office, joking around. To me, and many other coaches in this area, she is bar none, the best player in the state.”