Bud Henderson had a hunch his freshman could get the job done, so he followed his gut.
With the game tied at 5-apiece in the bottom of the sixth inning, the North Forsyth head coach called on Ashley Barton to pinch hit with one out and Darrian Short on second. The move paid off, as Barton doubled down the left-field line and knocked in the go-ahead run. The Lady Raiders tacked on two more runs in the inning to knock off rival West Forsyth 8-6 on Friday at Raider Field.
"I don’t know," Henderson said, "I just felt like Ashley was a pretty good matchup for what [West] had out there. The [pitcher] looked winded and having to throw it right down the middle and I know Ashley Barton is a good, early first-strike hitter and she did just what I thought she’d do."
Despite Barton’s early season slump at the plate, she said she couldn’t let her coach down and jumped on an inside screwball.
"I’ve been struggling lately," Barton said, "but I knew that he believed in me that I could do this. I was just trying to get the runner in and do something."
North (3-4, 2-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) followed Barton’s RBI with a pop out and Jenna Zirlott sent a line drive up the middle that allowed Barton to cross the plate. Zirlott scored the final North run on an infield error.
The Lady Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning after Karlee Grab scored on a one-hopper to third from Andrea Coleman (1-for-1, 2BB), while Morgan Franklin crossed home on Breena Gwaltney’s (4-for-5) RBI single to left field.
West (1-4, 0-1) responded with a pair of runs in the top of the third, as Peyton Erb scored on a wild pitch and Angela Jordan hit a sacrifice fly to left to bring home Bailey Concatto (2-for-3), but North pitcher Lea Ann Porter (5 IP, 2 ER, 6H, 2 BB, 106 pitches) limited the damage and left a runner on second, making the score 2-2.
The Lady Raiders reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the frame with a run-scoring hit from Angelina Coleman and added a run in the fourth and fifth inning with a pair of RBIs from Sydney Turner off West pitcher Lauren Bearden (5 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 12 H, 3 BB, 107 pitches).
West rallied to tie the game at 5-5 with a RBI single from Concatto and a two-run hit up the middle from Hayla Seitz (3-for-3), but couldn’t get another run across in the inning as Turner got a groundout in relief.
The Lady Wolverines managed one more run in the seventh, but a groundout ended the game.
"We fought and showed some heart," West head coach Justin Rickett said. "We didn’t play real great defensively. We haven’t been on the field a ton [due to rain], but we’ve still got some work to do."
North will play Alpharetta at home on Tuesday at 5 p.m., while West will travel to Johns Creek.