Welcome to the rivalry, Olivia Tyson.
Her introduction actually came a month ago, when South Forsyth racked up seven earned runs and walked eight times against her during a 9-7 loss.
Thursday night was a different story.
Tyson, a first-year transfer from Mill Creek, was brilliant against North Forsyth's intracounty rival, scattering four hits across seven innings and etching her name into the rivalry, as the Raiders beat the War Eagles 6-1 to avenge last month's sweep.
“I’ll tell you – I’ve been telling people this for a couple weeks now – North Forsyth/South Forsyth softball is the greatest sports rivalry in the county, and has been for a long time," North Forsyth head coach Jim Cahill said. "Every time we play it’s intense. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes, and whoever capitalizes on mistakes, those are the ones (who win).”
South (15-2-1, 10-2 Region 6-7A) hadn't had fewer than five hits in a game all season, and the War Eagles' one run is also a season low.
Meanwhile, North (16-8, 11-3 Region 6-7A) pounded 12 hits, as all but one starter had at least one hit.
“Playing North, it’s always a big rivalry. I told them, I said, ‘Don’t think it’s going to be easy, because they want you,’" South Forsyth head coach Leanne Brooks said. "They showed up today and we didn’t. One hundred percent.”
Hailey Mize's RBI double in the first inning scored Adaline Nix and gave North a 1-0 lead. Mize singled her next time up, then drove a deep fly ball into center field in the fourth inning that Ashley Chu corralled.
Her next at-bat, with two outs and runners on second and third, South elected to intentionally walk her and pitch to Lauren Fields, who smacked a two-run single up the middle to extend North's lead to 6-1.
“She’s one of our best hitters," Cahill said of Mize. "I think if Makenna was up in that situation, I’d do the same thing.”
Nix (2 for 5, 3 R, 1 RBI), Mize (2 for 3, 1 RBI) and Emily Hutcheson (3 for 3, 2 R) each had multiple hits for the Raiders, while Fields and McKayla Cothran each drove in two runs.
Ansley Chiang, Katie Jenkins, Katie Traynor and Audrey Hui each finished with one hit, with Jenkins singling in Ruthie Allen in the fourth inning for South's only run.
South had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh inning, but Tyson got Hui to ground out to third baseman Ali Jones, who stepped on third base for the force out to end the game.
“She’s done a great job," Cahill said of Tyson. "Kyleigh Sanders did a great job for us last year down the stretch. She’s really coming in and filling that same role that Kyleigh did last year, so she’s been outstanding.”
It's just the second loss of the season for a South team that is ranked No. 6 in the latest Class 7A rankings.
“It is only one game, but at the same time if we keep playing like we did – we’ve got to make a change," Brooks said. "We didn’t take care of the ball. We didn’t have good approaches in the box, and that’s one thing that we talked about before the game.”
North has won the past two region championships, but South swept the Raiders last month in a doubleheader. Thursday's game marked another chapter in a meandering rivalry that Brooks said hasn't changed much since her playing days at South.
“It was the same way when I played," Brooks said. "North was our biggest rival 10 years ago, or more. I don’t know what it is about it – why it’s been that way. It’s always a good game. It’s always competitive, and it makes it fun, because you never know year-to-year, game-to-game what’s going to happen.”