Hobgood earns TIC softball title

Published 1:55 pm Monday, May 7, 2012

AHOSKIE – Still the best, and proving it.

The Hobgood Academy Lady Raiders captured their second straight Tarheel Independent Conference softball championship Friday with a 12-0 shutout win over Lawrence Academy in the title game.

Hobgood won the 2011 North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A state title a year ago and are ranked number-one again in 2012.

The title tilt featured the top two teams in the league, but Hobgood rode the strong pitching of young Taylor Smith, an eighth-grader, who surrendered just one hit with no walks and three strikeouts in the whitewash.

Smith was also outstanding at the plate going 3-for-3, including a triple, and driving in five runs.  Demi Barwick drove in three runs going 2-for-4 while Haleigh Barwick was 2-for-2 and plated a pair.

Lawrence’s lone base hit came off the bat of Emma Conigliaro, who was also the only Lady Warrior to reach second base via a steal.

“We had a good season,” said Raiders coach Phil Medford. “I think we can pull another one (state championship) out if we just hit the ball like we’ve been hitting because our bats just came alive this year.

“I’ve got those two eighth-grade pitchers so I was really depending on my bats this year; but the pitching’s done great and I’m just hoping we’ve got four or five more good games left in us,” he added.

They had a good one in them in this one: getting a couple of runs in the first inning before exploding for 10 more in the next three and coasting to the five-inning victory.

“We only made three errors today, but you can’t stop good hitting and we just don’t have the pitching right now,” said Lawrence coach Kristen Nobles-White.

Conigliaro started in the circle for the Lady Warriors and absorbed the loss; giving up five runs on eight hits while walking four and netting just a single strike out.

Unfortunately, her sister, Giovanna, didn’t fare much better; surrendering seven runs on six hits and three walks in just an inning of relief work.

The Lady Raiders were also aggressive on the basepaths, amassing seven stolen bases.

Hobgood opened the game netting a pair of runs in the first inning and could have done more damage, but for Conigliaro getting a fly-out with the bases loaded.

Nobles-White made an early pitching change, but Hobgood was unfazed.  Thirteen ladies came to the plate in the second inning and seven of them would later touch home. The regular-season champs’ six-hit attack helped stake them to a 10-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Smith retired seven in a row before Conigliaro broke up the no-hitter with a solid shot to right center field in the top of the fourth inning.  But the move didn’t jump-start Lawrence as Conigliaro was picked off in a double-play to end the threat.

From there it was Taylor again who sat down four in a row, including getting the final out on her third strikeout of the game.

“I’m hoping to get another stab at them at states,” said Nobles-White

The Warriors seem a shoo-in for the TIC’s second North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association playoff spot behind the Raiders.

“It’s always good to play good competition,” she added, wistfully. “The TIC has a lot to be proud of.”