Catawba Ridge’s Audrey Wilson lets out a scream after hitting a two-run double against West Florence Tuesday evening.

FLORENCE – One down, one to go.

The Catawba Ridge Copperheads softball team won game one of the 4A state championship series beating the West Florence Knights 10-2, despite a slow start offensively.

“We started getting selective and not chasing bad pitches,” said Catawba Ridge head coach Michael Kidd. “They stepped up with runners on bases. We were able to settle in.”

Game two will be at Catawba Ridge at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23 with a chance to win the state title on their home field. The Copperheads improved to 28-2 on the season.

“‘It’s a big advantage,” Kidd said. “I feel like they are going to pick up where they left off.”

West Florence came out and took the Copperheads down in order facing the minimum to open the game.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Knights got two on base both from walks, but the Copperheads managed to get out of it without surrendering a run.

Catawba Ridge got their first hit of the game off a single from Mia Kovacs in the second inning, but were unable to score. Then in the top of the third inning, the bats woke up for the Copperheads. Braylon Lawrence singled with two outs and a double by Audrey Wilson scored Lawrence. Back-to-back triples from Kendra Murray and Sarah Rocheleau put Catawba Ridge up 3-0.

West Florence was able to threaten some in the bottom of the inning, but still couldn’t score.

The Copperheads added to their lead in the fourth as Kyrsten Reynolds single and was sacrificed to second base. Two passed balls later, Reynolds was able to score extending the Catawba Ridge lead.

The Knights cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth. A hit batter for West Florence would eventually score on a double for the Knights.

Catawba Ridge got that run back in the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run by Murray.

West Florence wouldn’t go quietly. A leadoff walk would lead to another run scored as the Knights would use an RBI double to cut into the lead of the Copperheads.

However, Catawba Ridge was able to match West Florence punch-for-punch. In the top of the sixth inning, Morgan Bagshaw led the inning off with a single. Lawrence singled and Wilson hit a two-run double and then scored on a Murray sacrifice. Kovacs then hit a two-run home run to blow the game open for the Copperheads. The five runs on four hits put Catawba Ridge up 10-2.

Copperheads’ starter Chloe Burger, who had an up and down fourth and fifth innings, was able to come back and allow just one base runner over the final two innings. Burger went the distance allowing two runs on five hits, while walking three and striking out 13 West Florence hitters.

At the plate, the top three in the order – Lawrence, Wilson and Murray, each went 2-4 with Wilson and Murray driving in three runs. Rocheleau and Kovacs also went 2-4 as Rocheleau drove in a run and Kovacs drove in two.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

Catawba Ridge’s Kendra Murray takes a swing at a pitch during game one of the 4A state championship game at West Florence.
Braylon Lawrence slides safely into second base during the Copperheads’ game at West Florence Tuesday.