West Stanly softball takes advantage in regional series with ninth-inning win

Sports Editor’s Note: Marty McGee of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot contributed to this story.

Two softball teams on very long win streaks met in Wilkes County Friday night in the first game of the NCHSAA 2A Western Regional Series.

West Stanly, having won 27 games in a row, went on the road as a No. 4 seed to take on the undefeated third-seed West Wilkes Blackhawks, having won 22 games this season.

It took nine innings to decide, but the Colts scratched a run across to take the lead in the best-of-three series with a 2-1 win.

In the top of the ninth, Aliyah Rush singled to right and reached third on an error by the Blackhawks’ righty fielder, Kaitlyn Wayne. Brooklyn Lovin then grounded out to short, allowing Rush to slid under the catcher’s tag for the go-ahead run.

West Stanly (28-1) got a tremendous effort in the win from starting pitcher Lily Huneycutt who struck out 19 batters to earn the win. She walked one and allowed no earned runs on five hits.

The only run of the game for West Wilkes (22-1) broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning. With two outs, Madison Fletcher reached on an error by West Stanly third baseman Payton Little, who suffered an ankle injury but was able to continue.

Back-to-back singles by Kelsey Madden and Lily Proffit put the hosts up, 1-0.

West Stanly tied the game in the next half inning. Teagan Ritchie walked to lead off the inning and later stole second. With one out, Little grounded into a fielder’s choice to Proffit in the circle. However, an error by Proffit allowed Ritchie to score.

Proffit also did not allow an earned run in the circle, scattering four hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

“Our experience in big games did help and the girls kept fighting, even if there was a mistake made,” West Stanly head coach Emily Smith said.

“They kept each other pumped up and stayed behind each other.”

The Colts head coach praised Huneycutt’s performance in the circle as “amazing,” adding the West Stanly offense “continued to battle and scratch across runs. I am so proud of each player on our team and every member of the coaching staff.”

Game Two of the series will be Thursday night in Oakboro at 7 p.m. If necessary, a deciding third game is scheduled for Friday night at 7 in Millers Creek.