The Catawba Ridge Copperheads softball team walked off game one of the 4A state championships series with a single from Sarah Rocheleau to win 7-6 in eight innings over the South Florence Bruins.
Game one was a back-and-forth contest where each team seemed to fight to get an edge up on the other.
“I think there was some nerves,” said Catawba Ridge head coach Michael Kidd. “We got to be ready for a dog fight on Thursday. We left a lot of runners stranded. I am proud of them for not giving up. I think it helped us being battle tested.”
Game two in the best of three series is at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 25 at South Florence High School. Catawba Ridge improved to 25-3 overall on the season, while South Florence dropped to 24-11.
Rocheleau knocked in Jaidyn Harris who reached on an error to open the bottom of the eighth. As Rocheleau would be called safe as she beat the throw, Harris never stopped sprinting from second to score.
Catawba Ridge was not as strong as they have been as Copperheads pitcher Chloe Burger struggled in the circle. Burger struck out eight Bruins, but also walked eight and hit three batters. She gave up 10 hits in the win.
The Bruins threatened early loading the bases with two outs in the top of the first. Burger was one ball away from walking in a run but battled back to get a strikeout and get out of the inning without allowing a run.
Catawba Ridge went up 2-0 after the first on a two-run double by Kendra Murray scoring Rocheleau and Harris. Braylon Lawrence would drive another run in on a sacrifice.
In the second inning, Mia Kovacs led things off with a single and then would score on an RBI single from Rocheleau to give Catawba Ridge a 4-0 lead. Rocheleau would go 2-4 at the plate with two RBIs.
South Florence again threatened in the third inning loading the bases with the help of a double and two walks. Kameron Cotton would then double to center scoring two runs. A single would then drive in two more runs to tie the game before Burger would get out of the inning.
In the fourth inning, South Florence would put two on early with one out thanks to a walk and a hit batter. However, the Copperheads would get out of the inning with a run crossing home with a spectacular leaping catch by shortstop Kyrsten Reynolds.
Catawba Ridge regain the lead in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Audrey Wilson.
Just went to Copperheads thought they may get a little advantage, South Florence would again rally and tie the game in the top of the fifth off an RBI single from Riley Owens.
South Florence opened the sixth inning loading the bases with one out due to a single, an error and a walk.
Cotton would then get her third hit of the game with an RBI single to give South Florence the lead again.
Catawba Ridge had a chance to bust the game open with the bases loaded in the sixth inning but couldn’t get a run across as they trailed 6-5 after the inning.
The Copperheads tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI double from Georgia Burford pushing the game to extra innings.
If there is a game three, that will be played 7 p.m. Saturday, May 27 at Westwood High School which would serve as a neutral site.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep