Simply the best

Published 11:05 am Monday, May 8, 2017

MERRY HILL – Much as they’d done during the regular season, Lawrence Academy left little doubt as to who were the King and Queen of diamond sports in the Tarheel Independent Conference.

Let’s just say it was a day for Green and Gold.

In a sweep of both the softball and baseball conference tournament games on Thursday, the Warriors stamped their collective tickets to the NC Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs next week with dual championships won on the respective home fields.

The baseball team rode a two-hit performance from Most-Valuable Player, pitcher Jarrett Harrell to a 12-1 win over Terra Ceia Christian School, while about 200 yards south of their diamond, the Lady Warrior softball team was having their way in a 13-3 triumph over Ridgecroft School.

Despite routs in both games, the winning coaches each summed up their titles in four words.

‘This one was huge’.

Lawrence Academy claimed the Tarheel Independent Conference baseball and softball titles Thursday in Merry Hill. Jarrett Harrell (MVP) pitched a two-hitter and drove in three runs in a 12-1 win over Terra Ceia.

In the baseball game, Lawrence broke open a tight contest with 10 runs in the fourth inning on their way to a five-inning win.

After Terra Ceia scored the game’s first run thanks to a pair of singles, starting pitcher Jarrett Harrell settled in and didn’t allow another Knight runner past first base; primarily because he didn’t allow another hit.

Lawrence tied the game in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Harrell, and then went up 2-1 in the bottom of the third.  Leadoff batter DaQuan Wilson walked, went to second base on a passed ball, was awarded third courtesy of a balk call, and scored on an error by the third baseman.

In the fourth, the Warriors sent 15 batters to the plate, and all but five of them scored.  Terra Ceia didn’t record an out until Lawrence had batted around in the inning – and that out came when a runner was caught stealing.  The big blow came on back-to-back RBI’s from Shane Cowan and Harrell, the latter clearing the bases with a triple.  Terra Ceia pitchers both suffered bouts of wildness, hitting two batters as Lawrence twice loaded the bases and twice cleared them.  By the time Austin Wynne’s fly ball settled in the glove for the third out, Lawrence easily had this one in control with the double-digit outburst.

Harrell, as he’d done since surrendering those two hits in the first inning, then retired the side in order.

“We just have to regain our focus going into the state playoffs where I think we should be a one-seed,” said Warriors coach Jason Wynne. “Our bats came alive there in the fourth (inning), and we made them have to make plays.  This is a good carry-over preparing for next week.  We know what the mission is; we just have to keep working toward it.”

The state playoffs begin Tuesday with Lawrence expected to get a first-round bye. The state championship will be in Greenville at the Oakwood School May 19-20.

At the softball field on Thursday, Ridgecroft scored the game’s first run in the top of the first inning as Kathryn Outlaw reached on a dropped third strike, stole second, and scored on Shelby Hoggard’s base hit.

Lawrence tied it in the bottom of the frame when Lindsay Smith scored on Katlynn Stotesberry’s base-hit, then took the lead when Brinson Edmondson singled behind her for a 2-1 lead.

Lady Warriors coach Kristin White rotated pitchers Lauren Baker and Stotesberry; with one getting the win, and the other the save.

After Ridgecroft tied it in the top of the third, Lawrence went ahead in the bottom of the frame, and then tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning and three in the fifth.  Ridgecroft got one run back in the top of the sixth before the Warriors put it away in the sixth.

“They (Ridgecroft) usually play us very well over here the later it gets in the season, and for us to hit (10) like we did today and run the bases as well as we did was remarkable,” said White. “Our pitching and defense were good, so we’re getting to where we need to be at this point in the season.”

Softball seeding for the independent schools will take place this weekend.  The state championship will be back in Greenville at the Oakwood School May 19-20.