West Stanly softball coach announces retirement

Assistant coach Emily Smith will take over for Craig Carter

OAKBORO — After capping off the 2021 season with conference and state championship victories, West Stanly’s Craig Carter officially announced his retirement Monday from high school softball coaching.  

“It has been a wonderful 18 years coaching at the high school level and I have many treasured memories … none more special than my last 4 years at West Stanly High School,” Carter said in a press release from the school. 

During Carter’s four years leading the Colts, his teams compiled a 76-4 overall record — including a 36-0 record against Rocky River Conference opponents — and two state championships (2019 and 2021).  

In May, eighth-seeded West Stanly (20-0, 10-0 RRC) defeated the second-seeded South Granville Vikings (14-2, 10-0 Northern Carolina Conference) in back-to-back games of a best-of-three championship series, marking the fourth state playoff title for the school’s softball program (1997, 2013, 2019, 2021).  

That state championship came less than a month after the Colts claimed the RRC Tournament championship thanks to a 10-0 win over Mount Pleasant.  

It was a dominant season for West Stanly — the Colts outscored their opponents 188-19 in 20 games during the 2021 season.  

West Stanly assistant coach Emily Smith will take Carter’s position as coach of the softball program.  

“I am very excited and honored to be given the opportunity to be the head coach of West Stanly Softball,” Smith said. “This program is very special to me. It has so much tradition and success, and I am excited to keep that going. I have enjoyed coaching with Coach Carter and will cherish those memories forever. I look forward to getting back to work with our team.” 

Smith has assisted the Colts’ coaching staff since 2017, although she left for a brief stint in 2019 to work for Catawba College’s softball program. Between 2011 and 2014, Smith was a leading pitcher for the Catawba Indians, finishing her collegiate career with a 2.43 career ERA (sixth-best in program history) and 38 victories (fifth-most in program history) from the mound. 

Prior to that, Smith — now a fifth-grade teacher at Oakboro Choice STEM School — was a four-year varsity pitcher at West Stanly, where she won 85 games while garnering All-State and All-District honors.