RED CROSS — With a spot locked up in a three-game championship series next week, the West Stanly softball team has a chance to take home the 2A state title for the fourth consecutive season.
A championship next week would be West’s sixth in school history, having previously won in 1997, 2013, 2019, 2021 and 2022.
The fourth-seeded Colts (29-1) will either face the fourth-seeded Midway Raiders (21-5) or sixth-seeded North Johnston Panthers (17-5), with the first game of the series on June 2. The Raiders and Panthers were set to face off for a Game 3 tiebreaker on Wednesday night after multiple postponements due to weather.
Heading into the finals, West’s hot streak throughout the season has shown no signs of slowing down — the Colts have won 29 games in a row and have outscored their six playoff opponents by a margin of 34-7.
Fresh off the Rocky River Conference regular season and tournament championships, West shut out No. 29 Randleman and No. 13 Bandys in the first two rounds of the NCHSAA 2A playoffs before taking down No. 5 Maiden and No. 1 McMichael in the third and fourth rounds.
Right after handing McMichael its only loss of the year, the Colts faced No. 3 West Wilkes (22-2), which also entered the best-of-three Western Region Series undefeated.
In the first matchup of the series, the Colts used a game-winning triple from center fielder Aliyah Rush to pull off a 2-1 road win in extra innings.
Playing at home in Game 2 of the series, West Stanly trailed 2-1 before dual-threat Lily Huneycutt put the Colts ahead with her bat and kept her team ahead with her pitching, leading the Colts to a 6-2 win.
Huneycutt has compiled a 25-1 record this year in 27 appearances with a 0.69 ERA and a 244-16 strikeout-walk ratio. The senior’s 25 wins land her at the top in the state for overall pitching wins, and she ranks eighth and 12th in strikeouts and ERA, respectively.
Senior shortstop Teagan Ritchie continues to be the Colts’ game-changer at the plate, ranking 12th in the state in home runs (12) and 16th in runs (47) while also batting a team-best .507.
As the championship series begins next week, second-year coach Emily Smith and her Colts will look to keep their string of magic postseasons — and their current winning streak — intact as they prepare for their seventh, eighth and ninth (if needed) playoff games of the year.