Goss, Jones positive of Trojans' future after 'surreal' run

By DONNELL COLEY
Sports editor
Posted 5/22/22

The Harnett Central senior duo talks legacy and future following Friday's fourth-round matchup of this year's NCHSAA softball playoffs.

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Goss, Jones positive of Trojans' future after 'surreal' run

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FAYETTEVILLE — As the home team celebrated behind her Friday, Mikaela Goss neatly wiped away the tears tucked underneath her visor. 

Harnett Central's senior co-captain was the only player on the current roster to participate in North Carolina High School Athletic Association's postseason tournament, helping the 2019 squad past round two. 

Goss' tears were both of sorrow and pride as she thought about this season's journey, which unceremoniously ended with a fourth-round loss at third-seeded Cape Fear.

"After my freshman year, my whole entire goal for the rest of my high school career was to be like that team," she said after the 10-0 defeat in six innings.  

"I didn't (accomplish that) my sophomore or junior season. And then at the beginning of this season, I didn't think it was gonna happen this year either.

But, time went on, especially this past month  ... and it's been like, 'I'm living it again.' And we made it past where we went (in 2019), so it's a little bit surreal." 

The 2022 Lady Trojans (22-6) ended a two-year playoff drought and won the most games for the program in over a decade. 

Central's run to the regional semifinal included a championship title in the inaugural All American Conference tourney, and its first third-round win since 2010.

"It's been nothing but fun, honestly. It's been a lot of hard work," Goss added.

"You can't ask for much more than what we had." 

Goss got things started early for seventh-seeded Central on Friday, smacking a single in the first inning. She moved to third on a hit by Savannah Bain, but Cape Fear (24-4) ace Lex Glemaker – much like she's done throughout the playoffs – got out of the jam and kept it scoreless. 

The Lady Trojans trailed 6-0 after three, a position they'd been accustomed to this postseason only to earn two come-from-behind victories. 

But, the Lady Colts' vaunted defense and awakened bats held firm throughout to end what had become a magical run.  

Ivanna Jones, the team's other senior outfielder, was far from disappointed with how her final prep season concluded.

"It's probably like the best way I could end it. I mean, of course, we didn't win a state championship but ... no one expected us to go this far, especially after last season," Jones said after finishing as the group's second-leading hitter this year.

"And just seeing the fight in the younger girls and knowing that they're gonna be great next year is really encouraging."  

It's the kind of upliftment that caught the attention of Central coach  Ashley Gaines, who expressed utmost respect for her veteran standouts.

"Without the two of them, I don't see how we could've gotten here," Gaines said, noting how both set the precedent for others on gamedays and in practice.

"When you have two seniors that not only have pride and class in what they do but have talent in what they do, too – to get two seniors that have the full package is really hard."

Besides Goss and Jones, the entire Central roster figures to return next season. 

This includes sophomore ace Kacey Fulcher, who led the team in every major pitching category and combined with freshman Lauren Faulkner inside the circle Friday.

At the plate, Faulkner finished just behind Jones in batting average and was one of four Lady Trojans with 30-plus hits. 

As Goss sets to begin a new softball journey at Francis Marion University in the fall, she is content knowing the team from Angier is in as good of hands as when she entered four years ago. 

"There's no doubt in my mind that they can find people who can stand in right field and center field like me and Ivanna did. People in practice do it with us every single day," Goss said. 

"I'm not worried about the future of the program because they're all good ballplayers. ... I'm just excited to see them in this exact same field next year." 

Donnell Coley can be reached at dcoley@mydailyrecord.com or 910-230-2040. 

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