South Charlotte

Ardrey Kell captures the local limelight

Ardrey Kell won both the Southwestern 4A regular-season and tournament softball titles, claiming both spots over Butler - and second-place Independence - for the first time.

It's the Knights' first regular-season title in their short history but their second consecutive tournament title.

Charlotte Latin had a season to remember, going 13-8 and advancing to the NCISAA state semifinals (double elimination finals), before falling to High Point Christian.

Charlotte Catholic also had a solid year, going 13-9, finishing second in the ME-GA 7 conference to East Gaston and advancing to the 3A playoffs, before falling to West Rowan.

Softball Player of the Year: Stephanie Wood, Ardrey Kell. Wood led a talented Knights team with her .550 batting average and 30 RBIs, but also excelled in the classroom, earning a 4.3 GPA.

Wood, who plays first base, also led Ardrey Kell to its first outright SW4A regular-season title and second consecutive SW4A tournament title.

While Wood was recruited by several Division I schools for talents on the diamond, she will concentrate on her academics at University of Georgia next year, where her brother, Alex, is a pitcher on the baseball team.

Pitcher of the Year: Garland Austin, Charlotte Latin. Garland Austin has accomplished nearly everything in her three-year Charlotte Latin softball career. The three-time all-state junior has accounted for nearly every Hawks win in the past three years, but the one that has eluded her is the NCISAA 3A state championship.

Austin and the Hawks came up a game short of a chance at a state title this year, falling to High Point Christian in the semifinals of the NCISAA double-elimination tournament.

Austin will focus her attention on a last shot a state title next year.

Coach of the Year: Bob Bove, Ardrey Kell - When Bove got to Ardrey Kell three years ago, the Knights softball team had never beaten conference rivals Butler or Providence in a regular-season game.

"The attitude of this team (Ardrey Kell) has completely changed in my time here," Bove said. "It took a while to get there, but now this team expects to win." This year, Ardrey Kell went 19-8 overall (12-2 SW4A). The Knights were dominant most of the year, averaging nearly 10 runs per contest.

The best may still be to come for the Knights who lose only two starters (Wood and Samantha Shleffar) to graduation.