Tuesday was a fantastic night for the North Forsyth Lady Raiders softball team, but it was almost perfect.
Starting pitcher Sara King had nothing but zeroes credited to her name when she had two more batters to sit down in the top of the sixth inning. King never showed signs that she was in a perfect game, neither did her defense, but the anxiety North fans felt with each batter going down fizzled away when West Forsyth’s Christie Carpenter’s blooper to shallow left field fell just short of a diving glove.
West would get two hits and reach on two walks before the inning ended, with Ashton Bruce relieving King, but the Lady Raiders (5-1) held on to a comfortable 4-1 victory at Raider Valley.
King finished the contest with just two hits and a walk allowed through 5 1/3 innings, while Bruce would allow just one hit and a walk to seal the save.
The performance wasn’t just about King—the Morehead State commit and leading senior in the lineup—but rather the entirety of North’s defense. Because King couldn’t register a strikeout against the Lady Wolverines’ bats the defense behind her was put under pressure throughout the contest.
Despite the brief blip in the back end of the sixth inning the team finished with no errors, and it stood out to head coach Bud Henderson.
“We had to field every single ball tonight. We had fantastic defense,” Henderson said. “When it was hit Sara didn’t have to worry about bad happening. There’s girls have been out there long enough to really start feeling everything and not thinking, and it’s showing. It’s why we’ve played them so early on in their careers. They’re ready this year.”
Henderson didn’t think King put herself under too much pressure as the night went on.
“I think you could tell she knew, but she wasn’t showing signs of pressing or anything like that. She was out there, basically throwing a pitching lesson. She’s just really calm and mixes up her pitches well,” Henderson said.
West (3-5) head coach Justin Rickett wasn’t alarmed by the performance. He liked his team’s plate appearances but thought the balls were just hit to defenders at a high rate.
“She just got ahead in the count a lot, we might have chased a little bit, but give credit to (Sara). She’s a very good pitcher,” Rickett said. “We can’t win region tonight, so we’ve got to just put this game behind us and move on.”
North had a standout performance at the plate as well. Freshman Mallorie Black was 3 for 4 at the leadoff spot with a run scored and a double, while Madelyn Oliver (2-3, double, RBI) and Morgan Franklin (2-2, RBI) had multiple hit performances.
West threatened in the sixth after loading the bases after Bailey Concatto doubled and consecutive walks came from Ashley Schell and Alana Frye. Carpenter walked in to score the Lady Wolverines’ only run against Bruce.
North opened the scoring when Franklin singled to score Black, then came home again in the bottom of the second when Oliver doubled to bring home Payton Martin. Two more runs came in the bottom of the fifth off RBI singles from Addie Harris and Abbie Martin, scoring Bella Caracciolo and Franklin.