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Softball: North Forsyth outlasts South to clinch Region 5-7A championship
South Forsyth
North Forsyth's players celebrate Tuesday after winning the Region 5-7A championship with a 6-4 win against South Forsyth. - photo by David Roberts

Hailey Mize was confident she could stop South Forsyth's rally.

When Mize came in to pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning, she was tasked with preserving a two-run lead and ensuring the two runners who had already reached base didn't score.

But the first batter Mize faced, Emme Souter, ripped a single through the right side of the infield, loading the bases for South's most dangerous hitter, Makenna Segal.

Only Segal never made it to the plate that inning.

Kennedy Ariail, who led off the inning with a single, stopped at third base, which apparently caught Ruthie Allen and Souter by surprise, as Souter was just about to reach second base when North Forsyth catcher Ashleigh Grace corralled Adaline Nix's throw from right field.

As Grace fired late attempting to get Allen at second base, Ariail darted home. But shortstop Mallorie Black fielded Grace's throw and threw back home to cut down Ariail at the plate, making the third out of the inning.

"I was just hearing, like, 'Two! One! Four!' And I was just watching Ashleigh and where she was going to throw it," Mize said. "I went to go back up home plate, and she threw it (to second base), and I was like, 'Oh gosh, I don't know where to go.' Then we gladly got her out at home."

Meanwhile, Mize did exactly what she was called upon to do, as the junior lefty tossed 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball to preserve North's 6-4 lead and help the Raiders win the Region 5-7A championship for the second year in a row.

Kennedy Ariail
South Forsyth freshman Kennedy Ariail is hit by a pitch Tuesday during North Forsyth's 6-4 win against the War Eagles. - photo by David Roberts
Souter's hit was the only one Mize gave up in her relief appearance.

"She brings a different look, a different lefty look," North head coach Jim Cahill said. "Lefties can be a little tough to hit. The ball moves, which it was tonight, and she came in and slammed the door when we needed it."

North (26-2, 11-1 Region 5-7A) scored six runs in the first two innings but didn't score again after that.

Black reached on an error by South shortstop Ruthie Allen in the first inning. She went from first to third on an error by second baseman Isabel Hui, then scored when catcher Katie Jenkins misplayed a ball behind the plate.

North scored three runs in the first inning — all unearned.

"We are of course upset over it, because we hoped for better, but North is a great team," South head coach Leanne Brooks said. "These last two games, we didn't play like we had been. We didn't take care of the ball, we had errors that cost us, we left a lot of runners on base. We can't do that against a team like this."

South (12-14, 6-6 Region 5-7A) rallied for a run in the first inning, two more in the third and another in the fourth.

Segal, who was intentionally walked in all four of her plate appearances, scored on a wild pitch in the first inning, then came around to score in the third after Katie Traynor's RBI single.

Traynor scored two batters later when Ansley Chiang socked an RBI double. 

Isabel Hui drove in a run in the fourth when her RBI groundout plated Souter.

"I don't know what it was — I really don't. But after that second inning, we addressed it, came together in the dugout and said whatever is going on we've got to get rid of it," Brooks said. "We've got to come together as a team and make a change, and they did, but those first two innings, you can't take them back. With this team, you can't let it happen."

Traynor tossed seven innings in the loss, giving up six runs — three earned — on seven hits and striking out six.

One of Segal's intentional walks came immediately after a walk to open the inning, but Cahill was determined not to let South's heavy hitter beat them.

"It's not just this year, but historically she's done very well against us, and we weren't going to let her beat us," Cahill said. "We were going to see if the other eight could."

Senior Kyleigh Sanders earned the win for the Raiders, throwing 4 2/3 innings of four-run ball, giving up five hits while striking out and walking four batters each.

McKayla Cothran reached base all but once Tuesday, finishing 2 for 3 with a pair of runs scored and two RBIs.

North Forsyth
North Forsyth lifts the Region 5-7A championship trophy in 2019 after beating South Forsyth, 6-4. - photo by David Roberts
Cothran's two-run double in the second inning plated Nix and Anslee Anderson, and Cothran scored four batters later when she stole home.

"We do a good job of scoring runs in bunches, and it just happened to be at the beginning of the game," Cahill said. "Beginning, middle, and we've done it at the end, too. It doesn't really matter when you score them, just as long as you score more than the other team."

North will host the fourth-place team from Region 7-7A in two weeks, while South will host the third-place team from Region 7-7A.