SUWANEE — Forsyth Central’s bats came to life after being shut out in the season opener against Peachtree Ridge Friday, earning the Lady Bulldogs an opening-day split with a 9-2 win against Gilmer.
Locked in a 2-2 stalemate in the top of the fourth inning, the Dawgs (1-1) loaded the bases when Ginny Prince was hit by a pitch, following consecutive singles by Caylin Davenport and Jessica Anderson.
Pitcher Brittney Head then helped herself with a fly ball to deep left field that the Bobcats (0-1) couldn’t pull down, giving Central its first lead of the night. Jamie Strickland later followed with a bases-clearing double to deep left-center, and the lead ballooned to 7-2.
Davenport and Anderson both struck for RBI extra-base hits in the sixth inning, and the game was called at the end of the frame due to time constraints.
“The thing that I liked ... [in] the top of the fourth we were up 3-2 and we didn’t have any hits,” Central coach Bill Richardson said.
“And then when we finally stepped off the plate and waited for something that we could really deal with, Jessica Anderson hit one deep and then Jamie [Strickland] hit that shot and Caylin Davenport hit one hard.
“We got three runs off no hits, but then when we finally started hitting, we got six.”
The game got off to a rocky start for Central after Head surrendered a two-run home run to Gilmer’s Anna Frazee in the bottom of the first.
The Lady Bulldogs answered right back in the top of the second when Anderson and Prince reached base and later scored on consecutive fielder’s choice plays at first base.
“We felt like we should have been a little more ready to go, but that’s why we’re glad you don’t just play one inning,” Richardson said.
“[Brittney] learned really fast after she threw the meat-ball to the big hitter. Her composure is the best of any pitcher we’ve ever had and she’s also a hardworking kid. Not only is she throwing harder [this season], but her pitches are of a little bit better quality.”
The coach expects his junior hurler and her twin sister, starting catcher Lauren Head, to be the bedrock of the team this season.
“I’m thrilled to death with Brittney [on the mound] and Lauren behind the plate,” he said. “That’s kind of our engine that drives the train.”
Peachtree Ridge 2, Forsyth Central 0
The Lady Bulldogs began the day with a loss to the tournament-host Lions, who finished the 2007 season with a second-place finish in the state in Class AAAAA.
Central ran into a buzzsaw in Peachtree Ridge pitcher Krysten Connelly, who allowed only three hits and racked up nine strikeouts in a complete-game shutout performance.
“We couldn’t get anything going [on offense], we never had a runner on to lead off the inning,” Richardson said.
Miscues came back to haunt the Dawgs’ defense, as four errors contributed to the Lions’ two unearned runs.
“The errors were the whole difference in the game. You can’t make a mistake against them, they’re just too good,” Richardson said.
But the coach added that overall, he wasn’t unhappy with the effort his team gave against such a high-caliber opponent.
“We definitely can’t be unhappy about the way we took care of business, except for that first inning. We eliminate [those errors] and it’s [a scoreless tie] against the state runner-up from last year,” he said.
The Lady Bulldogs return home to face Roswell at 5:55 p.m. Tuesday.