DOUGLASVILLE — Timely hitting and seven errors helped push South Paulding past Forsyth Central.
Madison Messer pitched a five-hit shutout, as South eliminated Central 10-0 in a six inning mercy-rule shortened victory in Game 2 of the Class 5A state softball playoffs on Wednesday at Spartan Field.
"Bottom line, you got to make plays and we didn’t," Central head coach Bill Richardson said. "We had a chance to score some runs and we didn’t take advantage of it. They had a chance and took advantage of every single one. They are very good, at least as good as advertised."
With the game scoreless entering the top of the fourth inning, the Lady Spartans drew back-to-back walks before Erika Arthrell singled to load the bases for Amber Green. Green hit the ball to the first baseman, who couldn’t field it properly and allowed the ball into right field. The throw home from right field was off target and the catcher’s throw to third to get Green wasn’t handled cleanly, as three runs crossed the plate.
The Lady Spartans scored again on a wild pitch, allowing Green to reach home, and AnnDee Priest finished the scoring with an RBI single to make the score 5-0.
Central threatened in the bottom of the fifth inning with runners on first and third, but Messer (6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 6 K, 0 BB) forced a fly out to end the inning. Jessica Dunn was the only bright spot for the Lady Bulldogs, as she finished the game 3-for-3 with three singles.
South extended its lead in the sixth inning when Priest cleared the bases with a three-run single. Maddy Appleby then smashed a double to left-center field to score Priest. Jordan Hobdy was hit by a pitch and Kayla Gibson walked to load the bases for Lindsey Blake, who drew a run-scoring walk to make the score 10-0 before Central’s Carrlyn Kiser (6 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 5 K, 6 BB, 1 HBP) forced a pop out to end the inning.
Rachel Karlan and Dunn hit back-to-back singles for Central in the bottom half of the frame, but Messer worked out of the jam without allowing a run.
"We had a couple of mental breakdowns, especially in that second game," Richardson said. "We have to do better than that. We didn’t make the plays we’re supposed to make, that’s all there is."
The Lady Bulldogs didn’t fare much better in the first game of the evening, as South defeated them 5-2.
The Lady Spartans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning off Central pitcher Caroline Thomas (6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 K, 0 BB) as Priest and Hobdy each delivered an RBI.
South scored another run in the third inning when Ansley Weatherford hit a triple and reached home on a wild pitch, boosting the lead to 3-0.
Lexi Bump hit a two-run single off Messer (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 5 K, 1 BB) in the fifth inning to score Alexa Hull and Olivia Brasher, but those were the only runs the Lady Bulldogs were able to manage.
South (26-10-1 overall) tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the inning when a fielding error allowed Blake to score from first before Ansley Wilbanks hit an RBI single to make the final score 5-2.
Central finished the season 17-18 overall.
"First of all, we’re probably about two weeks later finishing our season than anyone thought we’d be," Richardson said.
"There were a few of us on the inside that had an idea [of the possibilities]. We were fortunate that we got a good draw coming out of the region tournament, but to get out of the tournament, we played pretty dad-gum good."