ALBEMARLE — With 64 consecutive regular season Yadkin Valley Conference victories, the South Stanly softball team’s \ success over the past decade elicited no signs of slowing down.
The Bulls (15-2, 10-0 YVC) officially claimed their fifth straight YVC championship on April 13 with a 14-0 win over Gray Stone (8-9, 1-8 YVC).
South is now set to host its conference tournament in early May after a two-week period in which it will participate in a slate of nonconference matchups, including the West Brunswick High Spring Break Tournament that began April 18 with Whiteville (9-4, 3-3 Waccamaw).
After back-to-back early-season losses — a 3-2 home loss to West Stanly (14-3, 7-0 Rocky River Conference) on March 4 and a 10-9 road loss to Weddington (11-6-1, 4-3 Southern Carolina) on March 8 — the Bulls have won 13 straight. South has outscored its opponents this season by a 160 to 32 margin, including a 110-17 advantage in conference play.
Four different Bulls have led the team’s offense. Junior Kassie Swink has a team-high 29 hits and .492 batting average, while senior Emma Campbell (.464) has 26 hits. Junior Skylar Mauldin ranks third on the team with a .457 average at the plate.
Power-hitting junior Mattie Poulos (.444) has 11 of the Bulls’ 14 home runs and a team-best 38 RBIs. Poulos has also been one of South’s top pitchers with a 1.95 ERA, 5-1 record and 40-10 strikeout-walk ratio in her 28 innings pitched.
Senior pitcher Glover Ali has the Bulls’ ace, compiling a 9-1 record and 1.33 ERA while allowing only 49 hits in 68 innings pitched.
Last season, the Bulls had a 16-4 overall record (8-0 in conference play) and reached the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A softball championship series. While the Camden County Bruins ultimately won the championship — winning two out of three games — South still could hold its head up high as the Western Regional champions.
With a combination of explosive hitting and steady pitching, the 2022 Bulls currently hold all the same ingredients that took them deep into the prior postseason, as well as valuable playoff experience from the year before.