It was happening again.
Lambert’s softball team began its first week of region play without a victory, falling behind late to take a close loss to Forsyth Central on Thursday. Throughout Lambert’s Tuesday night region matchup with South Forsyth, though, the Longhorns looked on track for a win for most of the game despite a slim lead.
But in the fifth inning, Lambert’s chances of coming away with their first region win of 2019 took a big hit. South’s Ashley Chu led off the bottom half of the frame with a single, and after an error scored Chu from third, a Makenna Segal double to left put the tying run at third.
South’s Katie Traynor then lifted a flyball to center, but instead of a bases-clearing hit, Lambert’s Lindsey Nelson leaped up to make a then-critical play to limit the damage to one run. After a strikeout ended the inning, the game was tied 3-3, but the Longhorns knew it could have been much worse.
Lambert wasn’t about to allow another region comeback like the one it suffered against Central, though. In the top half of the sixth, a passed ball allowed Maddie Todd to score the go-ahead run from third, and an error in center scored two more, ultimately pushing Lambert to a critical 6-3 victory.
“We’ve played six games before this that were two-run ballgames, so we've been in those tight games already,” Lambert head coach Brooks Youngblood said. “We've been there, we've seen it, we've lost ... Credit to them for having a strong mental fortitude there and a little bit of grit to say, 'Hey, bad things happen and we're going to bounce back. We're going to make sure we win this game (and) we're not going to let it turn the other way.’
“I think it's kind of a confidence thing. We did what we thought we could do and what we needed to do. We played solid, I thought, all the way through and so I'm happy with the effort.”
Lambert (3-8 overall, 1-2 Region 5-7A) took its first lead in the second, with Colleen Thorson and Nelson each hitting RBI singles to put their team up 2-0. In the circle, the Longhorns’ Brooke Miller did what she could to keep that early edge over South (7-5 overall, 2-1 Region 5-7A), striking out six and walking just one over her four innings.
“We didn't walk people,” Youngblood said. “We had a couple walks here and there but the amount of walks we've been giving up, it was nothing compared to that. We're not putting extra people on base just for free and that makes a big difference in the game.”
Allie Sewell extended Lambert’s lead to 3-0 with a single in the top of the fourth, but a Katie Traynor groundout in the bottom half cut the Lambert lead to 3-1 heading into the final few frames. South’s three errors allowed Lambert to set up some of their scoring opportunities, with the late misplay in center ultimately putting the game out of reach for the War Eagles, who were coming off a strong start to region play.
“I told them going into this that we've got to stay humble, and we can't take that 2-0 week and think that anybody's going to make it easy, because (they're) not,” South coach Leanne Brooks said. “I think we just didn't have the right approach going into it.”
For the Longhorns, the win looks to be another step in the right direction, with each region game being a marked improvement over the last so far.
“It means a lot, especially doing it against South,” Nelson said. “I think it changes our perspective looking out to the rest of our region games. This year is not going to be somebody at the top, undefeated and somebody at the bottom that didn't win a game -- every single game matters.”