This was probably not the right night for Forsyth Central Lady Bulldogs pitcher Carrlyn Kiser to have her ritual pre-game Monster Energy drink. It was Senior Night, and Kiser noticed the extra students behind the center field wall and the extra parents and friends in the bleachers.
“My nerves were crazy,” Kiser said, “so I was shaking.”
And yet Kiser ripped through visiting Riverwood’s lineup in Central’s 13-1 four-inning victory Tuesday night at home.
On the mound in the twilight of her high school career, Kiser silenced Riverwood. She didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings. She struck out six straight at one point. She didn’t allow a runner to reach base until a lead-off walk in the top of the fourth inning.
That run eventually scored when Kiser showed the first sign of weakness all night. She responded with her seventh and final strikeout to end the game with runners stranded at second and third.
“I think tonight I was just so excited to be out here,” Kiser said. “I am every game, but tonight was just such a big night.”
“She was throwing it tonight,” Central head coach Kaelin Farrington said. “You could tell she had a lot of energy, was really excited to play, but that’s what she brings.”
That, according to Farrington, has been the common quality of Central seniors Kaitlyn Albert, Lexi Bump, Meredith Black, Jazmin Decker, Haley Goughnour, Caroline Thomas and Kiser. Before the game, they walked under a canopy of aluminum bats toward home plate where they were given flowers and a framed jersey.
It is a group whose experience has swung between every degree of futility and elation in their four years, from winning three games their freshman season to making the state playoffs the next to missing the state playoffs by a single game a year ago.
“Those seven girls have turned the program around,” Farrington said.
They helped continue Central’s turn-around this season with Tuesday’s swift win, marking the sixth straight victory for the Lady Bulldogs (11-8, 8-3 Region 7-AAAAA, Div. B). Before that, Central was 5-8 and had lost four straight in its own Pink Out Tournament.
“The beginning of the season was almost like a train wreck,” Kiser said. “It was not how we play. The Pink Out Tournament was our turn-around.”
Indeed, Tuesday was the Lady Bulldogs’ sixth straight win. Central is in line to secure second-place in the sub-region with a win over Sprayberry (8-7, 7-4) on Thursday.
Riverwood (2-12, 1-10) did all it could to help Central, particularly in the second inning when the Lady Raiders’ pitching and defense imploded. Riverwood’s Rebecca Langfelder and Caroline Sweetin combined for five walks and two wild pitches and hit two batters. Riverwood mishandled a routine groundball at third to lead off the inning and a fly ball to left field that scored two runs. Marisa Hull added an RBI single. Alexa Hull knocked in two more with a sharp grounder to right field. Goughnour drove in another with a liner up the middle, one of her three RBI.
By the end of the inning, Central had sent 15 batters to the plate and scored nine runs – as many runs as the Bulldogs managed in seven innings against Riverwood on Aug. 28.
Kiser took care of the rest.
“We have slowly progressed through the season,” Farrington said. “Which is good. It’s good to progress through this season. This is where you want to be peaking, and I feel like we are peaking at this point. I feel good about the way we’re playing right now.”