Published 9:36 am Thursday, May 19, 2016

MERRY HILL – Two years ago a lower-seeded Ridgecroft School softball team knocked Lawrence Academy out of a run to a state championship.

This year’s team didn’t let them forget it.

Scoring nine runs in the first three innings, the second-seeded Lady Warriors down the Lady Rams 11-2 in the fifth meeting between the two Tarheel Independent Conference rivals.

Lauren Baker picked up the win in the circle with Ruthie Daniels taking the loss for Ridgecroft. It was the second straight time the Warriors had gotten to Daniels in an elimination game.

“It was focus,” said Lawrence Coach Kristin White. “We just had to be patient and keep our minds in the game.”

Aware of the stumble of 2013, Lawrence wasted little time breaking out to a lead with a pair of runs scored in the bottom of the first inning. They added two more in the bottom of the second to lead it 4-0 after two full innings of softball.

Daniels finally gave way to young Shelby Hoggard in the third inning when the Warriors batted around and put the game away thanks to five runs on the scoreboard.

Ridgecroft avoided the shutout with a pair of runs off Baker in the top of the fourth inning, but Lawrence came back to close out the scoring with two more in the bottom of the sixth and build a nine-run bulge; enough to secure their first back-to-back trips to the state championship since 2005 and ’06.

Weather has again played a part in the scheduling and Lawrence – the number-two overall seed gets a first round bye, but will play at 12:30 p.m. Thursday against the play-in winner between host, Oakwood, and TIC rival, Hobgood. Top-seed Cape Fear Christian will play in the early game at 10 a.m. CFCA faced Lawrence back in March in Erwin and claimed a 10-1 win.

That’s another time the coach hopes the girls have a long memory.