OAKBORO — A great, if not unexpected, season ended for the West Wilkes softball team Tuesday evening in the Red Cross area of Stanly County.
West Stanly defeated the Blackhawks 6-1 in the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs and brought an end to the Hawks 11 game-win streak.
“We start three seasons at the beginning of every year: the regular season, the conference tournament and the state tournament. We want to win all three of them. Two out of three ain’t bad. Couldn’t be more satisfied,” answered West Wilkes Head Coach Michael Woodruff after the game.
The game opened quietly for both teams as each went three up, three down in the first. In the bottom of the second, the Blackhawks gave up a single and a walk with no outs before pitcher Lauren Anderson recorded back-to-back strikeouts followed by a groundout to third base to end the Colts threat.
The Blackhawk hitters struggled to generate offense at the plate — they didn’t have their first hit until the fourth inning. The Blackhawks only managed four hits and one walk on the night against Jordan Hatch, the Colts’ pitcher.
The Colts (23-0) finally struck in the bottom of the fourth and took the lead. An RBI double by West Stanly’s Meredith Harwood, gave the Colts a 1-0 lead. Harwood, a sophomore, added a solo home run in the sixth inning.
The next Colts batter sent a grounder to Sophie Nichols that was thrown home, but the runner beat the throw, growing the Colts’ lead. Harwood stole home on a throw down to second base, expanding the Colt’s lead to 3-0.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the field that snowballed on us,” said Woodruff. “It happens when you play good teams.”
In the bottom half of the fifth, the Colts added another run, but in the top of the sixth, the Blackhawks (21-5) managed their lone run, scored by Jamilyn Wilcox after an RBI triple from Lauren Anderson.
The Blackhawks’ Carly Parsons managed a walk in the seventh, but that was all as the Colts recorded the final out and advanced to the fourth round of the NCHSAA playoffs. Top-seeded West Stanly will host No. 5 Madison tonight at 6 p.m.
Before boarding the bus for one final time this season, Woodruff shared his appreciation for his senior leaders, Tory Parsons and Lauren Anderson.
“I told both of them that this year was as smooth as I’ve had and credit them both for that. Two very mature girls in handling things, organizing practices with me, giving me their ideas and they’re both going to be greatly missed. Tory will do anything you asked her to, she never complains, never argues,” said Woodruff. “Lauren is the same way. She started at shortstop for two-and a-half years, then made a move to center field and then pitching and never questioned a thing. That’s a player and I had two of them this year as seniors and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”