A three-sport athlete at Princeton High School, Leonna Nelson, is the epitome of a teammate.
The senior, who plays softball, basketball and volleyball, brings a laser-like focus to every sport she plays, and it is a perfect example of why she is such an integral part of the Bulldogs’ success.
Softball is her primary sport, but Nelson loves all three sports equally.
“My favorite sport was softball, but I’ve learned to love all of them,” Nelson said.
Nelson, who started playing softball when she was eight years old, has steadily improved all four years. She burst onto the varsity softball scene as a freshman, helping the Bulldogs win the Carolina 1A Conference and reach the third round of the NCHSAA 1A playoffs.
And since then, she has blossomed into a player who can do it all.
For her career, she is hitting over .300, has an on-base percentage over .400. On top of those terrific offensive numbers, she does not mind getting her jersey dirty trying to tag out a runner.
“I’ve always wanted to excel at it (softball) and be really good at it,” Nelson said. “We’ve all worked together and helped each other build a better team so that we can play great together.”
Nelson is also a standout player on Princeton’s basketball team. The Bulldogs have won three straight conference titles and are undefeated this season.
This season, Nelson is averaging 10.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game.
“With COVID this season, everything has been different, but we’re making the best of it,” Nelson said.
She is looking forward to attending college next fall after she graduates from high school. Nelson would like to attend Gardner-Webb University, and she plans on becoming a physician’s assistant.
But first, Nelson’s work as a Bulldog is far from done, and she is looking forward to a deep playoff, in basketball and softball, with her teammates.
“I’d like to win a state championship, hopefully before I graduate. That’s my goal,” Nelson said. “Winning a state championship in any sport is probably a goal that anyone wants to have.”
She will go down as one of the school’s better athletes in recent memory no matter how this year plays out, but she aims to go out in style.
Nelson has sensed an improvement in her team every year, and she knows this year’s teams have a chance to be remarkable.
In a hotly contested game earlier this season, Princeton toppled 2A powerhouse Kinston. Still, she expects to find herself and her teammates on the right end of a few more thrilling wins this season.
Regardless of the sport she is playing. Nelson is a leader and a well-rounded player. It would be a luxury for any coach at the next level to have someone like Nelson on the softball diamond or basketball court.