Mooresville opened the best-of-3 4A West region finals Tuesday night with a convincing 10-1 victory over South Caldwell.
"It's good," senior third baseman Macy Martin said when asked about the start to the series. "We've got to keep it going."
The Blue Devils (27-3), seeded third in the West, look to close out the fifth-seeded Spartans (21-4) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Hudson. Game 3, if necessary, would be back at Mooresville on Friday. The winner advances to the state championship series.
Caitlyn Mann, Ellie Goins and Olivia Marshall supplied two hits apiece Tuesday. Goins, a freshman with 10 home runs, was 2 for 2 with a pair of intentional walks.
The Blue Devils fell behind in the top of the first inning but scored 10 unanswered against the Spartans, who eliminated them in last year's quarterfinal round, 2-1, thanks to a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh.
Martin punctuated the scoring in a big way during the bottom of the fifth, smacking a Jenna Pittman changeup over the fence in left field for a three-run homer.
Pitcher Kali Morton retired six of the seven batters she faced during the last two innings to seal the win. Morton allowed only three hits and one walk. She struck out four.
South Caldwell managed to get its leadoff batter on only once in seven innings. That was the fourth. But Goins turned an unassisted double play from shortstop to end that frame.
"Kali had another phenomenal game," Mann said. "When you have a good pitcher everything else seems to fall into place."
Pittman picked up two hits for the Spartans, who scored their lone run on an errant throw in the first.
Goins beat out a throw to first base in the bottom half, and her two-out infield single scored Hailey Lane to tie the game. Lane singled to lead things off.
The Blue Devils scored five runs--all with two outs--on three hits in the second inning to seize a 6-1 advantage.
Spartans shortstop Jasmine Hall bobbled the ball after fielding a Mariah Pearson grounder, and the go-ahead run crossed the plate. Mann delivered a two-run single to right field, and Jentri Meadows beat out a throw to first base for an infield single that scored another run. An error on the play permitted an additional run to score.
The five-run cushion proved to be more than enough as the Blue Devils inched closer to becoming the first Iredell County team to punch its ticket to the state finals in Raleigh.
The Mooresville-South Caldwell winner will play the East region winner between No. 2 seed Wake Forest Heritage (19-3) and No. 4 seed Wilmington Hoggard (18-7). Hoggard won their series opener Tuesday night 5-0. Game 2 of that series is Thursday in Wilmington.