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The Queen, again

LASKER – With five conference titles in eight seasons it’s fair to say the “Queens” of softball in the Tarheel Independent Conference are back on the throne.

Lawrence Academy capped a regular season crown with the TIC softball tournament championship, 14-0, over Hobgood Academy in the title tilt here on Tuesday afternoon.

Making the victory sweeter for the Lady Warriors is that this victory came directly off a loss Monday on the road in Erwin, 11-1, to Cape Fear Christian.  And that was on top of having the championship game postponed twice from last Thursday and Friday due to the rains.

“I couldn’t ask for better from these girls,” said a blushing coach Kristen White.  ”After everybody struggled at Cape Fear yesterday, to come back and win like this is just remarkable.”

Maggie Daniels closed out her TIC career with a three-for-three performance and she also drove in three runs.  Harley West and Allie Jones also drove in a pair of runs apiece.

More remarkable was the performance of eighth-grader Lauren Baker.  Baker surrendered a walk and a hit in the top of the first inning and then retired the next 15 batters in a row with a dozen of those outs coming by strikeout.

“She really came through, maybe even surprising herself,” Nobles added. “Monday she made a relief appearance, but her work in the circle today was nothing short of fantastic.”

After Stephanie Moore walked for Hobgood, Madison Rogers had the only hit for the Lady Raiders, and only blemish on Baker’s near-perfect afternoon.  Baker settled down with those two on base and got the next three batters as she struck out the side.

Baker then opened Lawrence’s half of the first inning with a double.  She then stole third base and scored on a throwing error for the first run on the scoreboard.  After Chelsea Ginn walked, Gia Conigliaro and Daniels had back-to-back singles up the middle; Daniels driving in a pair for a 3-0 lead.   One out later, Harley West delivered a run with a base hit and scored when Allie Jones reached on an error.  Anna Grey Thompson delivered Jones with an RBI and Gracen Rogers got the sixth hit to go with six runs.  Along the way, Hobgood coach Pam Tutor had made a pitching change, but to no avail; it was 6-0, Lawrence after the first inning of softball.

After a quick three up-and-three down, Lawrence went back to work as Conigliaro singled, went to second on Daniels’ second hit of the game, and scored on a one-out blast to center by West.  The Lady Warriors led it 7-0 after two.

Four more Lawrence runs came in the third as the Warriors batted around with Baker and Ginn driving in runs while Jones drove in a pair.  That upped Lawrence’s total to 11 runs on the afternoon.   The final three runs came in the bottom of the fourth to make the final score.   It’s also notable that in all four innings, Lawrence left at least two runners on base. The Warriors’ crown was also their second in a row of sweeping both tournament and the regular season titles.

Baker, Conigliaro, Daniels and Brabble made the All-Conference team, with Brabble named “Co-Player of the Year”; while White was named “Coach of the Year”.   Daniels, Conigliaro, and Baker also made the All-Tournament team.   Lawrence will get a home playoff opening round game before the NC Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A state tournament moves to CampbellUniversity in Buies Creek for the finals next Friday and Saturday.

NOTE: Ridgecroft School’s Emily Grace also made the All-Conference squad while the Lady Rams’ Bailey Vann and Northeast Academy’s Robyn Barnes were named to the All-Tournament team.

Coach Kristen Nobles-White (back left) poses with her team after Lawrence Academy won their second Tarheel Independent Conference softball title in two years. Staff Photo by Gene Motley

Coach Kristen Nobles-White (back left) poses with her team after Lawrence Academy won their second Tarheel Independent Conference softball title in two years. Staff Photo by Gene Motley