Catawba Ridge Copperheads – 2024 4A state softball champions

From “ready to defend, prepared to repeat” to repeat complete.

The Catawba Ridge Copperheads softball team won their second consecutive 4A state championship Thursday with a 6-3 win in game two over the West Florence Knights to sweep the championship series.

The Copperheads softball team became the first program to repeat as state champions at the school. It also gave head coach Michael Kidd his third state championship as a coach winning back-to-back state titles with Catawba Ridge and a state title at Nation Ford as head coach in 2011.

Game two was a lot closer than the first game, where the Copperheads won May 21 by a score of 10-2.

“This wasn’t easy,” Kidd said. “We prepare for moments like this and the moment is not too big for them and they knew that. They just needed to be reminded we are here because of what we do and they settled in. Looking at this time and the make up of this team and knowing what we went through last year, being battle tested day in and day out, they were ready coming into this year. They were prepared for a repeat more than any team I have ever coached.”

Catawba Ridge finished the season with a 29-2 record, with its only losses coming to Blythewood in their season opener and Byrnes.

A two out double was all that West Florence could muster in the top of the first inning. Senior starting pitcher Chloe Burger came back after the double and got her 1,000-career strikeout to get out of the inning.

In the bottom half for the Copperheads, Catawba Ridge came out like a team on a mission scoring three runs on three hits led by a two-run home run by Kendra Murray, which scored Audrey Wilson who doubled earlier in the inning. Braylon Lawrence got the scoring started crossing the plate on a passed ball after reaching on an error to start the bottom half of the first inning for Catawba Ridge.

Lawrence said that the Copperheads knew the pressure they were going to face in trying to win a state title on their home field.

“We perform really well under pressure,” she said. “We wanted it.”

Lawrence said this year’s team was different that last year’s state championship team.

“We were glued together more this year,” she said.

West Florence got on the scoreboard with the help of a single and a Copperheads’ error in the second inning.

Defensively, Catawba Ridge looked hesitant in the field as a second error led to another run being scored by the Knights to cut the Copperheads lead to 3-2 in the third inning.

Catawba Ridge started also struggling at the plate as the Knights faced the minimum in the second through fourth innings getting nine consecutive outs.

That put most of the pressure on the Copperheads defense and pitching. West Florence tied the game at three in the fifth inning off back-to-back doubles.

Kyrsten Reynolds was able to single for Catawba Ridge in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Copperheads failed to drive her in.

Finally in the sixth inning, the Copperheads’ bats woke from their slumber as Lawrence walked and then Wilson tripled knocking her in to put Catawba Ridge back ahead. Murray then drove in Wilson on a single. Both Wilson and Murray went 2-3 as Murray had three RBIs in the win. Both Wilson and Kovacs also had RBIs. The Copperheads started playing small ball and sacrificed Murray in extending their lead to make it 6-3.

“This was the most adversity we have faced this year,” Wilson said. “It was a tough game. We were very mentally prepared for that. Constantly encouraging each other and lifting each other up is important for us.”

Wilson said she felt like defending the state championship was harder than winning it originally last season.

“It was harder,” she said. “We had a big target on our backs and everybody wanted to beat us. We were battling ourselves at the end of the day, so it was definitely harder.”

Burger settled in the final two innings to get the Knights out and secure the Copperheads’ second consecutive championship. She allowed three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out nine. Burger said she was confident her team’s bats would come around despite struggling in the middle part of the game.

“When I know our hitters are behind us and I know we will come through that makes me relax more,” she said. “When I go back out in the field and I am in jams, I just think to myself to push and get through it.”

Burger has cemented her legacy at Catawba Ridge but said winning a second state title was a bittersweet ending for her time as a Copperhead.

“It is my last time playing with Braylon and Audrey because we have been playing together since we were nine,” she said. “This just means a lot more.”

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

Braylon Lawrence gives teammate Audrey Wilson a hug after Catawba Ridge won their second consecutive state championship Thursday.
Catawba Ridge’s Kendra Murray jumps on home plate after hitting a two-run home run against West Florence in game two Thursday.
Catawba Ridge’s Chloe Burger throws a pitch during the Copperheads game Thursday at home against West Florence.