Lake Norman and Mooresville are archrivals every time they step on the playing field in any sport.
Thursday night, more than cross-town bragging rights will be at stake as a piece of the I-Meck regular season softball championship could be on the line with just one week to go in the conference slate.
Lake Norman (14-1, 9-1 as of April 13), ranked No. 2 in the state, has been on top of the I-Meck all year, having lost their first game last week to Hopewell.
The Wildcats have been dominant, averaging more than 10 runs per game, while at the same time giving up less than two scores.
Coach Bob Hall wants his team to get even better as the postseason draws closer.
"We have a lot of talent on this team and everyone knows it," said Hall, who is 40-4 in his two seasons at the helm of the team. "But anybody can beat anybody on a given night in our conference and we found that out. The playoffs are going to be just the same, where it's one loss and you're out, and we need to be ready for that."
Mooresville (8-3, 6-2) hopes to be prepared for Lake Norman, as the Blue Devils are right on the Wildcats' heels in second place in the I-Meck.
Mooresville lost to Lake Norman 17-6 in their first meeting April 4.
But the Blue Devils' offense has been impressive since then, scoring more than seven runs per game for second-year coach Lisa Zevan.
"We definitely play in one of the best conferences in the state with teams like Lake Norman and North Meck," she said. "But we've been pulling our own weight and we're ready to get some big wins to finish the season strong. We feel like we can play with the best of the best."
Lake Norman had barely been challenged this season, outside of the two North Meck games, until Hopewell upset them last week.
How Lake Norman responds will tell a lot about a team that Hall says needs to mature in the stretch run of the season.
While Lake Norman has some flaws, they are still one of the most talented teams in the state.
Seven Wildcats batters are hitting above .400, including all-state leadoff batter Arin Hall, who sets the tone for the Lake Norman lineup. Stacey Houser, who began the year with three home runs and 17 RBIs, and Dominique Wilson, who hit three home runs and 11 RBIs, are the power behind her.
Lake Norman can score almost at will, but what separates the Wildcats is its two shutdown pitchers in Houser (5-0), who has a 1.4 ERA, and Kayla Pine, who is 6-0 with a 0.82 ERA.
After going to the 4A state semifinals in their first year in 4A, the Wildcats are thinking about another deep postseason run. But first, they will try to take care of Mooresville and win the I-Meck title.
After a respectable 9-5 season last year under Zevan, Mooresville is looking for bigger results in 2011.
The Blue Devils have produced so far because of a productive offense.
Sophomore Brandi Stamey, the leadoff hitter, usually gets things going while seniors Megan Hillard, Hope Smith and Margaret Whitestone do the damage in the middle of the lineup. Sophomore first baseman Kelsey Clark has also been hot as of late.
Whitestone has also done a good job on the mound for the Devils and will need to play a good game for her team to defeat Lake Norman.
Mooresville was blown out in the first game against Lake Norman this season because of a lot of errors, so they will try to avoid mistakes.
Zevan and her Blue Devils say they feel like they have a lot to prove in this game. Expect this game to come down to the finish in front of a packed house, living up to the rivalry.