North Forsyth’s softball team is a vocal bunch.
With all that rode on their game against West Forsyth, it may have been easy for the Raiders to be apprehensive and subdued. Both teams had a lot on the line – the Wolverines were looking to get out of Region 5-7A’s cellar, while the Raiders were trying to keep pace with the best of the region.
“I think a main part of it was staying up in the dugout,” Abby Martin said. “We have to cheer and keep each other pumped.”
That optimistic attitude seemed to pay dividends, with the Raiders climbing out of two separate deficits and eventually hanging on for a 6-5 win on Tuesday night.
The Raiders entered the bottom of the fourth down 3-1. They were staring down West starter Hannah Guthrie, who had allowed just two hits to that point. After a flyout to start North’s half of the frame, Martin blasted a solo home run over the center field fence to get the Raiders to within a run of knotting the game up.
It was her second home run of the game, which tied a record set by Kayla Martin, who graduated North in 2007.
“I didn’t even know that was a record, so it’s really exciting,” Martin said.
Martin’s round-tripper sparked the Raiders’ biggest rally of the night in which they scored five runs, which was aided by two fielding errors on West. One throwing error at shortstop with two outs cost the Wolverines two runs, and they finished their night with four total fielding miscues.
“West is always a tough team,” North head coach Jim Cahill said. “(Guthrie) did a great job and we took advantage of some of the mistakes they made.
“We never quit. We got down early and could have easily folded when we got down 3-1. We kept grinding (and) kept having great at-bats. We put the ball in play and made some things happen.”
Although it was the fourth inning that ultimately sealed West’s fate, it wasn't North's only comeback of the night. After West’s Emily Kraft scored on an RBI single from Madison Michael to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead in the first, Martin hit a deep fly ball towards the center field wall in the bottom of the frame. As she rounded first, she gazed at the fence as the ball bounced off the upper half of the wall.
“At first, I thought she was going to catch it,” Martin said. “I saw that she missed it so I was like, ‘OK, run hard and focus on getting around the bases quick.’”
And she did, sprinting around the basepaths for a stand-up inside-the-park home run to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the third.
Kelsey Schell hit her own home run in the third to give the Wolverines the lead back, before Avery Wassilchak extended the lead to two with an RBI single later in the inning.
The Wolverines didn’t give up after North’s eventual game-winning rally, inching closer with a run in both the fifth and sixth innings. North pitcher Hailey Mize was able to induce the outs needed to put West away in the seventh. Mize struck out four and allowed three earned runs in her winning effort. Guthrie struck out two and allowed two earned runs.
North now sits at 3-2 in the region, tied for first with Forsyth Central, South Forsyth and Lambert. West fell to 1-4.