Lawrence holds off Ridgecroft

Published 2:59 pm Friday, May 4, 2012

AHOSKIE – Lawrence Academy fought off a tough Ridgecroft squad Thursday in the semi-final of the Tarheel Independent Conference (TIC) softball tournament and earned a finals showdown with Hobgood Academy on Friday.

It will be the Warriors and Raiders’  second meeting in five days; Hobgood having completed an undefeated conference season with a win at Merry Hill on Monday.

In Thursday’s contest Lawrence broke out to a 7-1 lead in the first four innings only to see the Lady Rams paste five runs on the board in the fifth to pull within one and then tie it in the sixth before succumbing to the Lady Warriors in the bottom of the frame.

Giovanna Conigliaro got the win in relief of her sister, Emma, who started and went five and two-thirds innings giving up six runs, eight hits and a walk while striking out eight.

At the dish, Hayden Thompson was two-for-four with a couple of runs batted in and she scored twice.  Priscilla Lunsford, Chelsea Ginn, M. Ambrose, and Emma Conigliaro also drove in runs with Conigliaro and Sydney Brabble going two-for-three.

Erin Cooke was 3-for-4 for Ridgecroft and drove in three runs while teammate Laurel Boone was 2-for-4 and drove in a pair. Emily Grace also had a pair of triples in a losing effort.

“We’re a lot better than we were at the beginning of the year, but when you have a lot of young players like we have you can get rallies going, especially when you give up hits and make errors,” said Lawrence coach Kristin Nobles-White.

Ironically, it was a pair of errors by Ridgecroft in the sixth that proved to be the difference.

“Fortunately, we get better with each game and when teams make errors, it can turn out to be costly,” she added.

Lawrence opened the scoring by tacking on a couple of runs in the bottom of the first inning.  Ginn got a one-out base hit to right field, went to second base on a passed ball and then stole third before Thompson drove her in.

Thompson’s actually collected a pair of RBIs on her single into the gap in left center field because Emma Conigliaro, who followed Ginn at the plate, drew a walk, stole second and also came home on the hit.

Ridgecroft cut the lead in half in the top of the third inning when Emily Grace stroked a one-out triple to left field and came home on a sacrifice fly by Cooke to make it, 2-1, Lawrence.

The Warriors picked up two more runs in the bottom of the frame.  Conigliaro and Thompson had back-to-back base hits to put runners in scoring position. Kennedy Dail then got one run in on a sacrifice fly while M. Ambrose delivered the other.

In the bottom of the fourth, it looked like Lawrence would put the game out of reach. Brabble opened with a double to right, followed by Lunsford delivering her with a single in nearly the same place. Ginn then singled up the middle to score Lundsford.

Conigliaro got the final hit of the barrage to bring home Ginn. She later stole second and went to third on a passed ball and the Warriors still had not made an out before Ridgecroft coach Nicole Hughes made a pitching change.

The switch worked because Cooke, now in the circle, got a fly-out, surrendered a walk, but then struck out a pair to end the threat, but leaving the Rams trailing, 7-1.

The rally-killer led to a Ridgecroft rally of their own in the top of the fifth.

With two out, Grace got her second three-bagger of the game and came home on Cooke’s single down the third base line.  Dana Vann followed with a single to left moving Cooke to third before Boone brought both runners home with a single into the gap in right center field.

Lauren Colson would follow with the Rams’ third triple of the ball game, scoring Boone and Ruthy Daniels made the hit-parade 6-for-6 with a single to left that scored Colson and suddenly the score was, 7-6.

Things got even tighter for Lawrence as the Warriors went quietly in the bottom of the fifth then watched as Ridgecroft came all the way back to tie the game in the top of the sixth.

Grace drew a one-out walk and when Cooke doubled down the line for her third hit of the game to bring Grace home the scoreboard suddenly read, 7-7, and the Lawrence side became eerily quiet.

But they would get noisy again in next half inning: with one-out, Thompson hit a hot shot back to the pitcher, who then threw wildly to first for a two-base error.

Dail then reached on the second error of the inning, this one by the third baseman and it moved Thompson to third with the go-ahead run.

Ambrose then hit a come-backer to the pitcher and Thompson raced home with the go-ahead run followed by Dail, who beat the throw for a two-run Lawrence lead that proved to be the ball game.

Ridgecroft got a runner aboard in the top of the seventh, but the threat was erased when the runner was caught stealing on a throw from Lunsford.  The next batter struck out and the final out came on a roller to first, which was easily handled and ended Ridgecroft’s hopes for an upset.

“We battled back there and I’m proud of them because they never gave up,” said Ridgecroft’s Hughes. “I hope we can get a playoff spot because we worked hard, and I think we got better toward the end of the season.”