Putting pressure on the other team every inning was a goal for the Forsyth Central Bulldogs heading into this year. Central was able to achieve that on Thursday at home, putting on a show in front of their fans and completing the shutout against Roswell, 15-0.
“The biggest thing was the energy in the dugout. It's hard having 23 girls in a dugout,” Bulldogs head coach Kelley Gordon said. “Some girls aren’t playing, but I love that they’re in at every pitch and that they’re ready to swing the bats.”
The afternoon couldn’t have started any better for the Bulldogs, ending the Hornets' half-inning quickly to let their offense get to work.
After Central’s Avery Clemons drew a walk, she ran to steal a base right after. Taylor Jackson was next, and she hit the ball towards the left side of the field, advancing Clemons to third base.
Shortly after with Emily Caron at bat, the senior made contact with the ball, and as Hornets first basemen Luann Bogdan tried to get Clemons out at home but the throw wasn’t accurate, giving Clemons and Jackson enough time to get in for the first runs of the ballgame.
Pitcher Morgan Zdancewiz started to fall under pressure with the number of runs the Bulldogs were getting. It affected her pitching by hitting Reagan Bump on her ankle with a pitch, then hitting Hailey Berman to get the bases loaded with Bump at second and Kylie McTier at third.
Zdancewiz continued to struggle, as she hit Ava Metz, and McTier proceeded to jog home for the run.
In Emma Pirkle's turn at bat, she hit the ball in the soft spot between the Hornets outfielders to collect an RBI from Bump.
The series of getting hit with the softball wasn’t over for the Bulldogs, with Avery Barden getting plunked. That HBP allowed Berman to walk to home plate.
The bases were still loaded with Pirkle at second and Emma Barnes itching to score from third base. Clemons steps to the plate again this time gets a double and two RBIs to grow the lead to 7-0 — still in the first inning.
A trio of runs by Clemons led the Bulldogs’ offense.
It was starting to look like batting practice for the Bulldogs, adding 11 runs to the scoreboard in the opening frame. Roswell knew they had to swap pitchers, and they did, putting in Kelsey Wiggins to try to slow the Bulldogs.
Forsyth Central added three runs in the second inning, and Metz recorded a walk-off hit with two outs in the bottom of the third.
“It was awesome,” Gordon said on her thoughts on the 11-run first inning. “I talk all the time, ‘We got to get runners on base to put pressure on them every inning.’ Talk about not putting up any zeros on the board."
Wiggins had a chance to end the shutout with the bases loaded, but the Bulldogs (8-4) were able to track down the ball to retire the side in the third inning.
"I think it all started in the first inning," Gordon said, describing her defensive performance. "Taylor Jackson went in the 5-6 hole and backhanded a ball and threw her out from her knees. That set the tempo for the game. That's something we expect from every single game. She is going to be our leader on defense. We got a really strong defense all the way around."
Jackson helped her team by getting the team-high in RBIs with four.
The Bulldogs will try to continue their energy when they play at noon Aug. 27 at Alpharetta.