GRADUATION 2023: Alexis Harward played key role in helping South claim softball championship

During her four years as a South Stanly student, Alexis Harward was consistently on the run, sometimes figuratively but often literally.

Between her commitments as an athlete — where she was involved with softball, volleyball and swimming, taking part in Stanly Community College’s dual enrollment program, serving as a member of the school’s National Honor Society and working part-time at McKinley’s Yum Yum shop in Albemarle, Harward’s high school tenure has been a bit of a whirlwind.

“Being able to multi-task with a bunch of things going on at one time, it’s definitely taught me a lot during these four years,” Harward said.

Harward has also volunteered her time with Stanly Community Christian Ministry’s food pantry and has competed each year in the Toys for Tots softball tournament with her college showcase team, the Green Street Diamonds Elite.

“I don’t know how to take time off and I’m always wanting to do something,” she added.

Despite her busy schedule, Harward has always found time to be there for her friends and family.

“Alexis is one of the most humble, kind kids you will ever meet,” her mother Jessica Warren said. “She has helped care for her four younger siblings throughout high school and babysits for friends in the community in her free time.”

Being as involved as possible with sports and other activities at the school has introduced Harward to new friends. It also showed her that although South is a relatively small high school, it can often still punch above its weight class.

“I think that people underestimate small schools like South,” she said. “We’re really small, but we have a bunch of great students.”

Harward is one of those students, as she was a key contributor on the softball team that won the 1A state championship in 2022, where the team completed a 30-3 season by sweeping two games against Bear Grass Charter. It was the team’s third championship and first since 2012.

Harward had a key hit in the first inning of the second game against Bear Grass, which helped the Bulls score the first run en route to their championship-clinching 4-0 win.

The championship was made even sweeter after the team lost the championship game series the year before to Camden County.

“We all worked harder and we pushed ourselves harder,” she said about the team’s determination to turn their heartbreak into fuel for success the following season. “We did everything we could to prepare ourselves for the state championship again if we got there.”

Harward recalls slamming the ball into the ground in excitement and embracing her teammates after securing the final out to win the championship.

“We were so happy,” she said. “I have never had a feeling like that before. We were so relieved we finally did it and all our hard work had paid off.”

Harward had 87 hits and 49 RBIs during her three full years playing softball (her freshman season was cut short due to the pandemic), according to her MaxPreps statistics.

“I’m really thankful for having that experience with my teammates and my coaches,” she added. “I think about that every day.”

Harward has also done well in school, where she had a 4.19 grade point average as of late May.

As graduation neared, Harward was filled with mixed emotions. While anxious about soon having to leave her family to attend Florence Darlington Technical College in South Carolina, she felt accomplished and was “excited to graduate and then move on to see what my future looks like.”

Harward has been offered a scholarship to play softball at the college level for FDTC.

As someone who suffered injuries as an athlete and needed medical attention, Harward wants to become a physical therapist. She will be enrolled at FDTC’s physical therapy assistant program.

“I want to help other people manage their pain and I think sports really inspired me to pursue physical therapy,” she said.