South, West Stanly softball players receive top state honors

ALBEMARLE —Stanly County was well represented in the 2022 North Carolina Softball Coaches Association awards, with eight South Stanly players and six from West Stanly honored.  

The 14 local players chosen by the NCSCA were instrumental in helping both South Stanly (30-3) and West Stanly (29-4) win North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 1A and 2A state championships, respectively.  

South Stanly first baseman Mattie Poulos was named the 1A State Co-Player of the Year and 1A District 6 Player of the Year, while Ali Glover was named District 6 1A Co-Pitcher of the Year.  

Poulos led the charge offensively for the Bulls with a .485 batting average, 50 hits, 60 RBIs and 16 home runs. On the pitching mound, Glover was South’s ace with a 1.11 ERA after striking out 202 opposing batters in 137⅓ innings pitched. 

Additionally, outfielder Emma Campbell, second baseman Alexis Harward, outfielder Mary-Ryan Hinson, catcher Skylar Mauldin, third baseman Cassidy Smith, shortstop Kassie Swink, Poulos and Glover were selected for the All-District 6 team; Campbell, Harvard, Mauldin, Smith, Swink, Poulos and Glover each made the All-State team. 

For West Stanly, Lily Huneycutt is the 2A District 6 Pitcher of the Year, while first baseman Ashlyn Hughes, designated player Elizabeth Ingle, shortstop Teagan Ritchie, outfielder Aliyah Rush, second baseman Kristen Smith and Huneycutt were selected for both the All-District 6 team and the All-State team. 

Huneycutt posted a team-best 1.51 ERA with 251 strikeouts in 189⅔ innings pitched, leading her team to a state championship series sweep of Washington. Ritchie and Smith were the Colts’ top offensive players throughout the season — Ritchie had a .430 batting average with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs, while Smith had a team-leading .492 batting average with 58 hits and 28 RBIs. 

Both the Bulls and Colts will return experienced rosters next season that should make them the favorites in their respective conferences, Yadkin Valley and Rocky River. 

“We have 10 returners that can step right in and play next year,” South Stanly coach David Poplin said. “Even if I didn’t have anybody coming from middle school, we could put a team on the field tomorrow — but I’ve got some nice kids coming up from the middle school.” 

West Stanly coach Emily Smith is also excited about the future of her team. 

“It is exciting to know that the majority of the girls are coming back and, from what I hear, there’s a good group coming up from the middle school for the next several years,” Smith told SCJ. “It’s just exciting to know that the talent is still there.”