Mia Davidson hit a two-run run in the bottom of the sixth on Friday night to rally Orange to a 3-2 win over Monroe Piedmont in Game 1 of their N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A softball championship series at N.C. State's Dail Stadium.
Davidson's 12th home run of the season went over the centerfield fence, as she also knocked in Hayley Funk, who led off the Orange half of the sixth with a single to left field.
"It's crazy," Davidson said. "It takes a lot of pressure off. It's an amazing feeling because I've been in a little slump lately. I was thankful they came at me. I just needed to settle in."
The teams will be back in action Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.) in Game 2 where Orange has a chance to win its first state championship in softball. If a third game is needed, is is scheduled for 8 p.m. unless the outcome of the 1A series between Whiteville and North Stanly is decided, which would allow Game 3 to follow immediately at 5 p.m.
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Orange pitcher Kristina Givens worked out of several tight spots, including one in the top of the seventh after giving up a double to Kristin DelBene and walking cleanup hitter Gracie Gibson to put runners on first and second. But Given got Gracie Rape to pop out to freshman first baseman Jaden Hurdle in foul territory to end the game.
Givens, who struck out three, allowed two runs on nine hits. Her best inning was the fifth when she got all three batters out hit soft rollers back to her for easy outs.
"They're one of the better teams we've played," Givens said. "We wanted to keep them off the bases but as long as we followed up with our hitting, we're OK.
The Panthers scored in the bottom of the first as Hurdle singled in Abby Hamlett from second, who had reached on one-out single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Givens.
But Orange surrendered the lead in the third as Kyrah Phelix led off with a single and Avery Bellai followed with a walk. Gibson singled to third where Orange's Olivia Ruff committed a throwing error that error that allowed Phelix to score. Rape knocked in the second run on a fielder's choice.
It stayed that way until the the sixth when Orange finally was able to solve Rape's quick delivery. The Piedmont hurler worked fast between pitches and retired 12 straight Orange batters between Hurdle's first-inning single and Funk's in the sixth to set up Davidson's dramatic home run.