The first round of the Class 7A state playoffs didn’t start exactly like North Forsyth’s softball team wanted them to.
The first few innings of Game 1 saw the Raiders get six runners on base, only to have the lead runners erased, particularly in the second inning. In the first, some sloppy base running led to a Shiloh double play off a lineout. Through three innings, the first game of the series was scoreless.
Ultimately, though, the first two games of their playoff run turned vastly in the Raiders’ favor, as they took mercy-rule shortened 8-0 and 14-1 wins over Shiloh on Tuesday night.
The Raiders will move on to host North Gwinnett in the Sweet 16, which will take place next week.
“The coaches really helped motivate us,” North third baseman Abby Martin said. “At first we were slow because we kind of came in thinking it was going to be easy, and we got a little cocky. We had to come back down and play a hard game.”
The Raiders’ bats began to wake up in the fourth, with the help of some errors by the Generals. Two errors on the same play brought Abby Martin and Hailey Mize to the plate, and one at-bat later, Anslee Anderson sprinted home from third and slid under the catchers’ glove to give North a 3-0 lead.
In the fifth, North put the game away early, with three Shiloh errors and three hits from Mallorie Black, Martin and Mize helping the Raiders cross the plate five time in the inning, sealing the 1-0 series advantage. Katie Jordan and MacKenzie Marvin totaled two RBIs each, and Martin notched a team-leading three hits.
“I’m proud of them,” North softball coach Jim Cahill said. “Like good teams do, they made an adjustment.”
In Game 2, North didn’t wait as long as it did in Game 1 to make some noise, with Anderson and Mize recording RBIs in the first inning to give the Raiders an early 3-0 lead. That advantage only grew in the second, with Martin connecting on a two-RBI double and Black scoring on another Shiloh error.
With her extra-base hit, Martin set the program record for doubles in a season with 14. It wasn’t the first time Martin’s name had been etched in the record books, as she tied the team record for home runs in a game against West Forsyth on Sept. 4.
“It’s really exciting,” Martin said. “I knew I was getting close, because my dad had mentioned it the other day.”
With five hits in the third, North’s lead grew to 12-0. While Shiloh scored a run in the bottom half to potentially extend the game, the Raiders scored two more and secured the easy win.
“It’s been clicking,” Cahill said. “Our bats got hot at the right time. They’re good hitters. They make adjustments, whether a pitcher’s throwing fast, up, down or slow.”
Martin went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs in Game 2. Black, Mize and Anderson all totaled two RBIs in the final game of the night.