Colts, Bulls earn trip to championship series in state softball playoffs

ALBEMARLE — Two high school softball teams from Stanly County will have a chance to take home a title in the state playoffs this weekend. 

West Stanly (27-4) will face Washington (28-0) in a best-of-three game series in the 2A bracket, while South Stanly (28-3) will face Bear Grass Charter (24-4) in a best-of-three game series in the 1A bracket. 

The Colts will play their series at UNC Chapel Hill with Game 1 set for June 3 at 7 p.m.), Game 2 set on June 4 at noon and Game 3, if necessary, also scheduled for June 4 at 3 p.m.  

West is in search of its fifth NCHSAA state championship — the Colts won titles in 1997, 2013, 2019 and 2021.  

The Colts have made a deep postseason run following a loss to Anson in the Rocky River Conference Tournament championship game back on May 5. With that performance in the rearview mirror, West is now firing on all cylinders at the right time. 

“Our previous head coach, Coach Carter, has set a precedent for excellence that every year you want to try and achieve,” first-year West coach Emily Smith said. “A lot of the girls on our team this year got to play the last few years on the team, but they’re in new roles this year. 

“We really only have one player that is playing in their same position that they did last year, which is just a testament to these girls and their work ethic. Some of them have had to play behind other girls, but they’re getting their time to shine and they’re really just enjoying every moment and working as hard as they can.” 

Meanwhile, the Bulls will play their series at UNC Greensboro with Game 1 set for June 3 at 5 p.m.) followed by Game 2 on June 4 at 11 a.m. If needed, Game 3 would also be on June 4, at 5 p.m.  

South is currently riding an 11-game winning streak and is hoping to avenge its loss in last season’s championship series. According to South coach David Poplin, his team is playing with more experience and confidence than it had a year ago. 

“Last year, we were so young — only sophomore-deep with two freshmen playing every day — but now they’re a year older,” Poplin said. “We only got to play 20 games last year, but those very competitive games in the playoff run last year helped us set the tone for this season with a few other things that we do. The atmosphere that the girls create makes it that much better. It’s a cliche, but good pitching and timely hitting is what we’re living off of right now.” 

Both West and South have been able to enjoy some extra rest leading up to the championship as they each defeated their regional series opponents in the first two games with no third game required.  

West defeated West Stokes with a 5-2 win at home on May 24 followed by a 13-3 win on the road on May 25. South bested South Stokes by a 5-4 score at home on May 24 followed by an 8-6 victory on the road on May 25.