After another tough region loss on Tuesday, North Forsyth softball used a trip up in the mountains to reset itself.
On Wednesday, the Lady Raiders dominated Madison County at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. Afterward, they bonded over a team dinner before returning to Coal Mountain.
“We all just sat down and talked about everything that’s been going on lately,” North junior Bella Caracciolo said, “and I think we just kind of bonded over that, and it kind of got us back together as a team.” North got back on track in Region 5-7A with a 6-2 win at Forsyth Central on Thursday thanks to strong pitching by Sara King, some astute base running and one big hit from Caracciolo.
The Lady Raiders (9-4, 4-3) had been scuffling before Wednesday, particularly against county opponents. They’d lost three straight to South Forsyth, Lambert and West Forsyth, and had been out-scored 23-1. The dubious streak sent them from first in the region to in a tie for third with West.
But North looked invigorated against Central from the start, especially King. The Morehead State commit was perfect through three innings with four strikeouts. She wound up scattering just four hits with no walks and six strikeouts in six innings. Mackenzie Marvin pitched a harmless seventh inning.
“Our pitching was fantastic,” North head coach Bud Henderson said. “Sara had several strikeouts today, she was very sharp, on her game.”
Caracciolo helped North strike first. With two on and two out in the top of the third, Caracciolo ripped Gina Fishler’s pitch all the way to the wall in right centerfield. As Caracciolo approached first base, assistant coach Travis Jarrard told her to go for home. Such is the Morehead State commit’s speed that Lady Raiders coaches trust her with suck risks.
As Caracciolo raced through second, she looked for Henderson behind third base. He signaled for Caracciolo to stop at third. She did, standing, the biggest of her game-high three hits, and North was up 2-0.
“I was in a rough patch for a while,” Caracciolo said, “but I think us as a team did better [Thursday]. I think we all came together.”
North scored two runs each in the fourth and fifth innings, each on errors or wild pitches, even an errant throw back to the pitcher’s circle.
“We’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on doing things correctly and doing the small things,” Henderson said, “and at the end of the game those small things are big things.”
Central managed its two runs in the bottom of the fourth in the scrappiest of ways. Emily Flint bunted on, survived a botched pickoff to advance to second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on another. Karah Straub followed and reached base on a swinging wild pitch third strike. She stole second, stole third and then had her wits enough to race home on an errant throw back to the pitcher’s circle. Central trailed just 4-2.
Otherwise, the Lady Bulldogs (3-8, 1-6) were led by Grace Kizer, who went 2-for-3, and Bailey McCachren, who had a double. But Central managed just five hits in all, and the Lady Bulldogs’ three errors betrayed Fishler and McCachren on the mound.
“You let a team like that hang around and hang around, all they do is gain confidence,” Henderson said. “But we put runs on the board and kind of crushed their momentum and confidence a little bit.”