ALBEMARLE — The 2022 season will be both a rebirth and a reconfiguration for the West Stanly Colts softball team.
The two-time defending NCHSAA 2A softball state champion Colts (2-0, 0-0 Rocky River) have started their season with two wins despite a coaching change and losing six senior players to graduation.
Under new coach Emily Smith — a previous assistant to former coach Craig Carter, who retired after last season — West Stanly opened the year with a 10-0 home win over Porter Ridge (2-2, 0-0 Southern Carolina) on March 1 and a 3-2 road victory against South Stanly (2-1, 0-0 Yadkin Valley) on March 4.
“I am very excited and honored to be given the opportunity to be the head coach of West Stanly Softball,” Smith said last June when her new leadership role was announced. “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.”
Seniors Ashlyn Hughes, Carmen McRae, Aliyah Rush, Kristen Smith, Kaylyn Little and Lilly Hartsell will all look to step up to replace the production from the star players of last year’s squad.
The Colts are now without Jordan Hatch, a left-handed pitcher who finished her Colts career with a 51-2 record, 1.02 ERA, 554 strikeouts and a .140 opponent batting average. The former RRC Pitcher of the Year committed to East Carolina and currently holds a 1-7 record with a 6.00 ERA in 10 games pitching for the Pirates.
In her final season with West Stanly, she led the Colts to a 20-0 record along with state and conference titles. Hatch’s performance from the mound in the Colts’ recent state championship series victory over South Granville earned her the NCHSAA 2021 2A Softball State Championship Most Valuable Player award.
Over the past four seasons, the Colts’ overall record is 78-4, with a 26-game win streak, including three wins from the shortened 2020 season and the 2019 title game. The school has was won four state softball championships in its history (1997, 2013, 2019, 2021).
West Stanly was set to play West Rowan (1-1, 0-0 South Piedmont) at home Tuesday and will face Mount Pleasant (2-1, 0-0 Yadkin Valley) at home Wednesday; the Colts will travel to North Davidson (1-1, 0-0 Mid-Piedmont) on Friday. The group is currently riding a 36-0 winning streak against Rocky River Conference opponents and has a chance to extend that hot stretch when conference play begins on March 22 against Central Academy (3-1, 0-0 RRC).