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Softball: Central capitalizes on errors, offense to beat Lambert
Forsyth Central's Grace Kiser swings at a pitch during a game against Lambert on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. - photo by David Almeda

Before the 2018 softball season began, Forsyth Central’s softball team gazed at their new, shiny scoreboard and wondered aloud what the odds were that someone would hit it.

In the midst of that conversation, head coach Paul Cromie promised to buy the whole team a steak dinner if someone accomplished the feat.

When Grace Kiser stepped to the plate and drilled a fourth-inning home run to center field against Lambert on Tuesday, that deal was the first thing on her mind, but the ball sailed left of the target.

“That’s what we’re going for, and I thought I had it,” Kiser laughed.

Kiser’s homer was just one of three knocks for her on the day and 10 hits for her whole team, with Central’s offense coming alive late with the help of some Longhorn errors for a 10-2 win in six innings.

With South defeating North on Tuesday, the Bulldogs’ win puts them alone at the top of the Region 5-7A standings.

“Everything is tight at the top of the region, so every game is extremely, extremely important,” Cromie said. “(We) came out and did a good job. We’re going to be working on baserunning tomorrow for sure, but it’s a huge win.”

The last time the Bulldogs faced Lambert, their ace was a bloop single away from hurling a perfect game. For the first three innings, Bailey McCachren looked like she could have another legitimate try at the elusive feat, striking out the first six batters she faced. She finished with 13 punchouts for the game.

Kiser brought the first run in for Central with a RBI double in the second, but Lambert’s Lindsey Nelson led the fourth inning off with a triple and then scored on an Allie Sewell double two at-bats later.

“As good as (Bailey) is, she’s not going to be perfect every time out,” Cromie said. “Lambert’s a good ball team, (and) they’ve got some good players, so we do expect that. You just try to limit the damage and make the plays that they give you.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Central answered beginning with a Kiser double. Courtesy runner Brower scored the Bulldogs’ second run on a wild pitch, and Ansley Clark added some insurance by reaching on an error at third.

Lambert head coach Brooks Youngblood was ejected from the game during the next at-bat for arguing a safe call on a tag at first that originally allowed another run to score. After his ejection, the umpires reversed their decision, but the Bulldogs still had a 3-1 lead heading into the fifth.

Nelson drove in another run for Lambert in the fifth, but Central controlled the rest of the matchup. Kiser’s home run brought in two runs after McCachren reached on an error. Kiser finished her game 3-for-3 with three RBIs.

“In the beginning of the season, I was 0-for-10, so I came every day before practice and hit,” Kiser said. It’s nice to have outcomes like these, but it’s nice to have Bailey’s back too. That’s what we do.”

It began the Bulldogs’ second significant inning, bolstered by two more Lambert errors. The Longhorns finished with five. Central scored three more in the six to win by way of the mercy rule. For the Bulldogs, the results at the plate were gratifying.

“We’re finally hitting the ball,” Cromie said. “We’re finally hitting with people in scoring position. I think what I was most proud of tonight was the number of quality at-bats we had. There were several where we were down 1-2 in the count and the field battled back. They were patient.”

Central improved to 9-5 overall and 5-2 in the region. Lambert has now lost four in a row and fell to a 6-10, 3-4.