Stanly County schools shift focus to the diamond

Basketball season may be over, but baseball is already here. Here’s what to expect from the five schools in the area. 

West Stanly Colts  

2019 Record21-5, 13-2 Rocky River Conference 

Though their postseason ended in the second round of state playoffs last year, the Colts finished the regular season as the runner-up to Mount Pleasant in the conference standings. They followed that up with a championship victory over the Tigers in the RRC tournament finals.  

Eighth-year head coach Chad Yow and his Colts are without six seniors from their 2019 team but are returning three of them: catcher Cody Naylor, outfielder Riley Huneycutt and first baseman Colton Austin. As for the junior class, pitcher Michael Crayton and infielders Connor Tucker, Austin Stoker and Andrew Eudy are back.  

The Colts have upcoming road matchups with North Stanly on Thursday and Montgomery Central on Friday before traveling to Anson. West Stanly’s next home game will be against Mount Pleasant on March 20.  

North Stanly Comets  

2019 Record22-3, 15-1 Yadkin Valley Conference 

Three games (and three wins) into the season, ninth-year head coach Will Davis’ Comets have already outscored their opponentsSouth Davidson and Olympic42-0 

However, with only three returning starters, the Comets have a much different makeup (nine sophomores) than last year’s team that posted 22 wins and won a YVC tournament championship. Pitcher Rhett Lowder, catcher Dylan Eudy and newcomer Colby Hammer are the lone Comet seniors.  

North Stanly’s next slate of opponents includes East Rowan, West Stanly, Parkwood and Cherryville before a road trip to Southwestern Randolph; seven of the Comets’ first nine matchups this season are home games. 

South Stanly Rebel Bulls 

2019 Record15-10, 13-3 Yadkin Valley Conference 

With the Bulls’ season-opening 5-4 victory over Chatham Central last week, Terry Tucker got his 229th win in what is now his 13th season as South Stanly’s head coach. 

Last season, South Stanly finished fourth in the YVC standings and made it to the second round of state playoffs before falling to East Surry. Pitcher Garrett Swink, catcher Drake Page, shortstop Sawyer Smith and second baseman Cam Bowers are among the eight returning seniors from that team. 

The Bulls have four upcoming home games against Parkwood, North Rowan, East Curry and Anson before a road stretch with Montgomery Central and Uwharrie Charter Academy.  

Albemarle Bulldogs  

2019 Record2-16, 2-14 Yadkin Valley Conference 

The Bulldogs enter the season as winners of only six of their last 70 games. 

But while their 2019 roster was made up primarily underclassmen, the lineup is a bit more experienced this year. 

Infielders Gavin Olivieri, Gage Dennis and Judson Mabe join catcher Morgan Bunch as the Bulldog senior class, while junior outfielder Malik Long and sophomore Josh Tucker return to the action as well.  

One big positive for Albemarle is that it can again play on its home field. Last year, the Bulldogs were forced to be a road team all season due to Don Montgomery Park needing repairs from extensive hurricane damage. 

Gray Stone Day Knights  

2019 Record4-12, 4-12 Yadkin Valley Conference 

The Knights’ 2019 campaign resulted in an eighth-place regular season conference finish, and the team is still on a mission to claim the first winning season in school history.  

Without eight graduated seniors from last year’s team, it will be a brand new team again for second-year head coach Bradley Harrington. Sophomores Nate Crisco, Mitchell Macchia and Tyler Tuzenew are among the few returning players.