West Stanly softball eliminated from playoffs

The bid for an unprecdented fifth straight softball state championship for the West Stanly Colts came up just short Monday night on the road.

West Stanly, as the No. 8 seed in the 2A West Region, took on undefeated top-seed West Wilkes. The two teams faced off last season in the 2A Western Regional Series.

Monday night’s game would need extra innings, but the host Blackhawks denied the Colts the chance for another state title in a 2-1 game.

Both pitchers had strong outings. West Stanly’s Lilly Hartsell allowed two earned runs on six hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts.

For West Wilkes (21-0), Lily Proffit gave up one earned run on five hits with no walks and 18 strikeouts.

West Stanly (19-10) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Hartsell singled, was sacrificed to second by Madi Whitley and scored on a two-out Reese Hager single to left.

The Colts maintained the lead until the bottom of the seventh. Three singles tied the game with two outs and two runners in scoring position. Hartsell then got the next batter to pop out to Kennedy Austin at short to send the game to extra innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, a one out single and a walk set up Lexi Church for a walk-off, game-winning RBI single to left.

Hartsell was 2-for-2 at the plate for the Colts while Hager finished 2-for-3 with the RBI in the second inning.

“Our entire team played their hearts out and laid it all out there. As a coach, that’s all you can ever ask. They played with intensity from the first pitch to the final pitch. The final score didn’t go our way, but that doesn’t take away from the game that our team played against a very good West Wilkes team,” West Stanly head coach Emily Smith said.

Regarding the season, Smith said it “has been a year of growth and we got to see the benefits of that growth throughout the season. We continued to challenge ourselves with our strength of schedule. We competed in every game we played, even when the outcome may have not gone our way. These ladies are resilient and I am proud of each of them.”

The Colts had six seniors on this year’s team: Hartsell, Sophia Blackwelder, Brooklyn Lovin, Aliyah Rush, Kristen Smith and Reagan Talley.