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Lawrence ladies keep streak in place

MERRY HILL – All could have been lost.

Then came the sixth inning.

Lawrence Academy stood on the brink of elimination from the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 1-A softball playoffs, mustering just one run in the first five innings and trailing Shannon Forest Christian School 3-1.

The Lady Warriors, however, roared back and plated five marks in the sixth frame to stun Shannon Forest 6-3.

“In the 11 years there has been fast-pitch softball in the NCISAA, Lawrence Academy has always made the Final Four,” third-year LA coach Kristin Nobles said. “We came in as the number four seed, which was our lowest seed ever, but it was really important to me not to be the one that dropped the ball.

“Even though we were struggling in the early going, I felt good headed into the late innings,” she added. “When we hit this year, we all hit and I knew we just needed one person to break it open.”

The inning got started with a triple error by Courtney Mizelle. She came around to score when Hayden Thompson reached on an error. Thompson moved to second when Jeanne Lunsford drew a walk and advanced to third when Jennifer White reached on a Shannon Forest miscue. Taylor Sexton then drew a walk to force Thompson home and keep the bases loaded.

With two outs, Kendra Spruill then drilled a bases-clearing triple over the left fielder’s head to give Lawrence the 6-3 lead.

White, who claimed the pitching victory, struck out two and got a groundout to end the game and give the Lady Warriors their 11th trip to the NCISAA fast-pitch Final Four.

The Lady Warriors gave up one run in the top of the second inning, but rallied to even the score in the bottom half of the same frame.

With one out in the bottom of the second, Ashtyn Mizelle singled and stole second. She moved to third on a base hit by Courtney Mizelle and then scored when Melissa White delivered an RBI-groundout.

The game stayed tied for only a brief time as Shannon Forest scored on back-to-back doubles with two outs in the top of the third to edge ahead 2-1.

The Lady Warriors appeared close to tying the contest when Sexton reached third with nobody out in the bottom of the inning, but she was left stranded and Shannon Forest maintained the lead.

Shannon Forest loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the fourth frame, but didn’t score as White pitched her way out of the jam. The visitors did, however, add one run in the top of the sixth to take the 3-1 lead.

“I’m very happy for the seven seniors on this team,” Nobles said. “They have done a great job and they deserve the opportunity to continue playing.”

The Lady Warriors will open semifinal play in the NCISAA at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Friday) when they meet top-seeded Cape Fear Christian Academy at Campbell University in Buies Creek.