ALBEMARLE — Stanly County’s reputation as a high school softball powerhouse continues to grow after two schools in the county won a North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championship on June 4.
The West Stanly Colts (29-4) won their third straight state title in the 2A playoff bracket, while the South Stanly Bulls (30-3) followed up last season’s runner-up finish with a 1A state title.
Both the Colts and the Bulls clinched the championship in Game 2 of their best-of-three series located at UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro, respectively.
West, hailing from the Rocky River Conference, took down the Eastern Plains Conference’s Washington Pam Pack (28-2) with a 4-1 win followed by a 3-2 win the next day, both come-from-behind victories for the Colts. In 1A, South from the Yadkin Valley Conference defeated the Atlantic Five Conference’s Bear Grass Charter Bears (24-6) with 4-3 and 4-0 wins.
The Colts, who started this season a little shaky with a 5-3 record, managed to finish 24-1 over the next 25 games to win West’s fifth softball state title (1997, 2013, 2019, 2021 and 2022). The team capped off a deep postseason run following a loss to Anson (17-8) in the Rocky River Conference tournament championship game back on May 5.
“I’m so proud of them, I can’t even put it into words,” first-year West coach Emily Smith said. “This season has been so much hard work on their part. To get to this point, it definitely didn’t come easy all the time and there were tears shed at some points, but I think that makes it all the more sweeter to win the whole thing.”
West junior pitcher Lily Huneycutt was named the series MVP after recording 20 strikeouts and allowing just five hits, two walks and three earned runs in 14 innings pitched.
“Lily was really just lights-out,” Smith said. “Coming into the series, Washington had scored over 300 runs on the season, and she held them to three runs in two games which was just amazing for her. It was definitely a pitcher’s duel, so shoutout to both pitchers.”
While the Colts lost six senior starters from last year’s team, the roster will only lose two seniors heading into next season — setting up the possibility of a four-peat.
Meanwhile, the Bulls closed out their season with a 13-game winning streak and were able to get over the hump in the championship round. Last season, South defeated Camden County in Game 1 of a best-of-three game series but came up short in Games 2 and 3.
South senior pitcher Ali Glover was named the series MVP honors after she totaled 26 strikeouts in the two games; Glover racked up 16 strikeouts in Game 1 and threw a complete game shutout in Game 2 where she added 10 more strikeouts.