ALBEMARLE — Following fourth-round tournament wins on May 20, the West Stanly and South Stanly softball teams have each started their best-of-three regional series in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state playoffs.
The seconded-seeded and reigning state champion Colts (26-4) are facing fifth-seeded West Stokes (20-5-1) in the 2A Western Regionals Series, while the first-seeded Bulls (27-3) are squaring off with 11th-seeded South Stokes (21-7) in the 1A Western Regionals Series.
West and South each have home-field advantage for the three-game series that will alternate locations. The regional series were set to begin Tuesday with a home game for the Colts and Bulls (UPDATE: The Colts pulled out a 5-2 victory over the Wildcats while the Bulls pulled out a 5-4 victory over the Sauras). Both teams will be on the road for Game 2 on Thursday, and Game 3, if necessary, will be back in Stanly County on Saturday.
The Colts entered the state playoffs coming off a loss in the championship of their conference tournament. West Stanly defeated South Granville in two games in the state finals series last season.
If they can reach two wins over the West Stokes Wildcats, the Colts will face either first-seeded Washington (26-0) or second-seeded South Lenoir (24-1) in the state championship series beginning on June 3.
West Stanly advanced in the state tournament by defeating No. 31 Wheatmore (8-13) in a 13-0 shutout before taking down No. 15 R-S Central (14-10) in a 9-8 finish. The Colts went on to shutout No. 23 Morehead (16-9) 11-0 and then defeated No. 14 Anson (17-8) 7-4.
The Bulls, meanwhile, are riding a nine-game winning streak that included winning their conference championship. South Stanly advanced to the state finals series last year but lost in three games to Camden County.
The winner between South Stanly and South Stokes will play either first-seeded Bear Grass Charter (22-4) or second-seeded Vance Charter (17-4) on June 3.
In the first round, the Bulls hosted and defeated No. 32 Andrews (3-17) 15-0 and then notched a 6-1 win over No. 17 Draughn (16-9) in the second round. South Stanly’s next two wins came against No. 8 Cherryville (16-8) in a 13-1 finish and against No. 13 Starmount (21-4) in a 9-1 finish.