Until further notice….

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2006

MERRY HILL – Lawrence Academy sent a message here Wednesday afternoon.

That message: the Lady Warriors are the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association champions until further notice.

&uot;We were in a dog fight today,&uot; second-year coach Truitt Johnston said. &uot;We fought hard the entire game and we were able to pull it out. At this point, survive and advance is okay with us.&uot;

The Warriors did just that as they were called upon to beat Tarheel Independent Conference rival Hobgood Academy for the fourth time this season in order to advance to yesterday’s (Friday) NCISAA semifinal matchup with Faith Christian School.

The Warriors took eight innings to dispatch Hobgood 3-2 in a game that had twists and turns throughout.

With the score tied at 2-all and two out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Ashley Swain blooped a singled over the head of the Raiders’ first baseman.

Johnston immediately sent Jennifer White in to run for Swain and the move paid off on the next swing of the bat when LeAnne Eubanks deposited a three-bagger to left field, scoring White and sending the Warriors to the semifinals of the NCISAA for the sixth consecutive season.

&uot;I used every coaching maneuver I knew and more psychology than I was aware I knew,&uot; Johnston said. &uot;We kept fighting and we were able to come back and pull this one out.&uot;

The Lady Raiders served noticed early in the contest they were intent on pulling the upset, scoring a run in the bottom of the first and holding the lead until the sixth stanza.

Hobgood plated their first run in the top of opening frame. The run scored on a walk, a dropped third strike and a bunt single. Despite having the bases juiced, the Lady Raiders didn’t score again.

Hobgood held that one-run advantage through five complete innings.

Lawrence threatened in the home half of the first when Jodi White tripled to left, but was left stranded.

The Warriors had runners on first and second in the bottom of the third after Jessica Johnston and White had back-to-back singles, but they were again left stranded.

The Raiders scored another run in the sixth on back-to-back walks and an RBI-groundout.

That 2-0 margin was erased in Lawrence’s half of the same inning when Kendall Street singled and went to third on a Lauren Rea double to left.

Swain sacrificed Street home and Eubanks had a sacrifice to score the other run and deadlock the game at 2-all.

&uot;We were down to our last six outs and I was fully aware of it and so were the girls,&uot; Truitt Johnston said. &uot;Instead of hitting the panic button, we kept it together and scored the two runs that got us back even.&uot;

Jessica Johnston, a senior hurler who was named Tarheel Independent Conference Player of the year, went all eight innings on the mound, surrendering two hits and two runs.

The Warriors played in the semifinal of the NCISAA Friday afternoon.