For the last week, Forsyth Central’s softball team has been all about leaving the past behind.
The immediate past is quite painful for the Bulldogs, who took a crushing walk-off loss against Region 5-7A leader North Forsyth last week. In practice, head coach Paul Cromie has been reminding his players that the season is far from over.
But ironically enough, it was a vintage performance from Bailey McCachren that helped the Bulldogs move on at least a little bit from the North game on Tuesday night. The Central senior and reigning all-county pitcher of the year put in her most critical and perhaps most dominant outing of 2019, taking a no-hitter into the sixth and striking out 15 to lead the Bulldogs to a 3-1 win over the War Eagles.
Central improves to 4-1 in Region 5-7A play, keeping pace with North, who stands at 3-1. South fell to 2-3 with the defeat. McCachren ended her night allowing just two hits, the closest she’s come to throwing a no-hitter since finishing a hit away from tossing a perfect game against Lambert last year.
“She just keeps getting stronger,” Cromie said. “If we can put just one or two on the board, I'm real comfortable about our chances. Honestly, I hope it just fuels her fire even more, because it's just going to make her want it the next time.”
That’s not to say South’s starter wasn’t effective against Central on Tuesday: Hannah Marchman put in a performance worthy of a win, striking out four and allowing just one earned run over seven frames. For the first four innings, both teams were deadlocked, with a first inning leadoff single from Central’s Ansley Clark accounting for the game’s only hit at that point.
“It was kind of nerve-racking, the first four innings,” Cromie said. “It was three up, three down, three up, three down for the first 12 at-bats. We had to make some adjustments. That's just the learning process. We have a lot of people that love to swing the bat -- everybody loves that long ball, but sometimes you've just got to put it in play and make them make a play.”
And in the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs finally forced South to make mistakes. After Lauren Wall singled to start the frame, Caraline Bryant singled, but two throwing errors on the play brought both of them home for a 2-0 Central lead. McCachren could finally relax a bit.
“Everything worked,” she said. “I felt confident and everything. I just went out there with determination and knew that I could. I'm just going out there and throwing, just doing what I can. I know my team's behind me to back me up.”
She ultimately needed that defensive support. McCachren’s no-hitter was broken up by an Ashley Chu single that began the sixth, and two batters later, Katie Traynor brought her in for South’s only run, cutting the Central lead to 2-1.
The Bulldogs grabbed their insurance run back in the bottom half of the sixth, though, with Sydney Moroney bringing in Ansley Clark on a single. McCachren did the rest, striking out the side in the seventh to end the game.
“I'm never satisfied with any performance,” McCachren said. “I always look at what I do wrong and what I do great and just work on everything I can.”
Cromie still thinks that his team beat itself against North, and the Bulldogs are eagerly awaiting playing the Raiders again at home. But through it all, he hopes his team takes the past week as a learning experience.
“We're learning things about ourselves in terms of mental discipline, which is huge,” Cromie said. “We're excited about the second half -- we're looking forward to it.”