OAKBORO — With five NCHSAA state championships under its belt, the three-year reigning 2A champion West Stanly Colts softball team is on the hunt for its sixth trophy as the regional series of the state playoffs begins this week.
The fourth-seeded Colts (27-1), riding a 27-game winning streak, began a best-of-three series at third-seeded West Wilkes (22-0) on Tuesday and will come back to Oakboro for the second game on Thursday at 7 p.m. A third game, if necessary, will be at West Wilkes on Friday at 7 p.m.
[NOTE: West Stanly defeated West Wilkes 2-1 in extra innings on Tuesday night]
The Colts have been dominant in their four playoff games so far, outscoring opponents by a combined 24-4 margin. Now they face an undefeated Blackhawks team that has had a 32-4 run differential in its four playoff matchups.
West Stanly has experience knocking off a previously undefeated team: The Colts beat No. 1 seed McMichael in a 4-2 thriller on May 19.
Teagan Ritchie put the Colts on the board early with a first-inning home run off Phoenix pitcher Dakota Redmon, who returned the favor with a solo shot in the bottom half of the inning.
West two-way star Lily Huneycutt soon reclaimed the lead for the Colts with an RBI double before Payton Lofton provided two more runs for the Colts. On the mound, Huneycutt allowed only two runs on six hits with six strikeouts and no walks in the game.
Albemarle girls’ track places second at 1A state meet
The West Stanly softball team isn’t the only local squad experiencing postseason success.
Last weekend at North Carolina A&T, the Albemarle Bulldogs girls’ track and field team finished as the runner-up to Swain County in the overall competition for the state title. The Bulldogs recorded 83 points in the event — 17 less than the champion Maroon Devils.
Bulldogs senior Akala Garrett — the Most Outstanding Athlete award-winner for the event — set three state records to go with three individual state titles and was also part of a new relay race record.
Albemarle’s 4×400 relay team of Baldwin, Garrett, Abigail Clayton and Mary Grace Krol set a 1A record for the state meet with a time of 3:57.16.
The team also recently won first place at the NCHSAA Midwest Regional, where the Bulldogs came out on top with 118 points, easily topping second-place North Rowan (90 points).