After coming so close each of the past two seasons, North Forsyth’s softball team finally has its region championship.
The Lady Raiders claimed the Region 6-AAAAAA title — their first since 2005 — with a 5-4 victory over West Forsyth on Thursday at Fowler Park.
The game was tied 4-4 with two outs in the top of the seventh inning when Karlee Grab beat out an infield single by a half-step. Breena Gwaltney then singled to right field, and a fielding error allowed Grab to come all the way around from first to score the deciding run.
North (19-10) has won its last five games, including consecutive one-run victories over West, after losing the second game of the tournament and coming within a loss of being eliminated.
"I don’t know what to feel right now; I’m just numb," North head coach Bud Henderson said before his players doused him with a cooler of icewater.
"I’m so proud of these girls. They deserve it. Good things happen to good people, and these are a bunch of good girls."
North reached the Region 6-AAAAA title game in 2010 and 2011 but fell to Milton both times.
The Lady Raiders came ready to go all the way from the outset this time, as Savannah Chapman and Rachel Mixon both recorded RBI singles off West pitcher Avery Migues (2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 K, 3 ER) that gave them a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Sydney Turner delivered a single in the third inning and moved to second after Mixon singled. Following a wild pitch and a walk, Grab drew a walk to load the bases for Gwaltney.
The eight-hole hitter didn’t disappoint, as she drove home Turner with a single.
"I didn’t know how the game was going to start off, but as hot as we have been swinging the bat, I wasn’t surprised we got out on them early," Henderson said. "I’ve got seven and eight [hole] hitters that basically won the ball game for us. It was just a team effort."
North tacked on another run in the fourth after Chapman, who finished 2-for-3 with two singles and two RBIs, drove in Jenna Zirlott with a single to make the score 4-0.
"I’m seeing the ball well and I’ve made some adjustments in my swing recently that seems to be working out for me," Chapman said.
"My success wouldn’t be anywhere without my teammates. You can’t do anything without anyone on base."
The Lady Wolverines (17-13) started a rally in the fifth when Peyton Erb punched in a run on a single off Mixon (5 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 K, 2 ER).
West scored two more runs after Danielle Bernstein hit the ball to the third baseman, but the throw sailed over Chapman’s outstretched glove and allowed West to close the gap 4-3.
West tied the game in the sixth after the umpire called North relief pitcher Andrea Coleman (1 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB) for a balk that scored Caitlin Parks from third.
"We fought back and got back in the game and just came up a play or two short," West head coach Justin Rickett said.
"You can’t fault any of our kids for the way they’ve worked, but we get to go on [to the state tournament] and everybody starts back at 0-0 next week."
The Lady Wolverines threatened in the bottom of the seventh with Bernstein on third, but Coleman forced a groundout that was just in time to get the third out at first base and end the game.
The Class 6A state tournament is scheduled to begin Wednesday.
North holds a No. 1 seed going into the state tournament and will host the No. 4 seed from Region 7, while No. 2 seeded West will open the postseason at home against the Region 7 No. 3 seed.