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The Forsyth County News Top Moments of 2021: Moments 10-6
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TOP LEFT: Forsyth Central’s Jessie Duong celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against Lambert. TOP RIGHT: Denmark’s Karthik Kochuparambil runs the 4x800 at the Class 7A state championships. BOTTOM LEFT: Lambert’s Seth Beer poses for a picture as a junior in 2015. BOTTOM RIGHT: East Forsyth’s softball team holds up freshman Cadence Alberty after she threw the school’s first-ever perfect game. File photos

The Forsyth County News sports staff is counting down the top moments from the 2021 year. We will release moments 1-5 on Thursday at forsythnews.com/sports, and on Jan. 1, 2022 in print in our weekend edition.

10. Forsyth Central baseball's postseason run

Forsyth Central’s magical run through the Class 7A playoffs nearly wasn’t.

The Bulldogs had won eight straight games down the stretch entering April, winning the season series against South Forsyth, Lambert and Gainesville in the process, in addition to beating Class 2A runner-up Lovett and eventual Region 6-7A champions Denmark.

However, Central hit a snag near the end of region play and lost three straight games to West Forsyth, North Forsyth and South Forsyth, including a 14-4 blowout against the War Eagles.

The Bulldogs were in need of a win. They got two.

Jessie Duong launched a two-run, first-inning home run and Will Robbins backed it up with a 13-strikeout gem, limiting Lambert to just one hit in a 3-2 victory. The next day, Central hammered Gainesville 13-3 to lock up the No. 2 seed by one game and avoid a four-team tiebreaker.

Central swept Archer, then visited Region 8-7A champion Mill Creek and swept them too.

Central managed only three hits in a 2-0 Game 1 loss to Grayson in the Elite Eight, but the Bulldogs staved off elimination hours later when Robbins struck out 17 Grayson batters in a complete-game shutout to force a decisive Game 3 the next day.

The two teams were tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, where the Bulldogs sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs.

Jackson Boswell toed the rubber in the top of the seventh, tasked with preserving the lead, and struck out the side to give Central a 6-1 lead and send the Bulldogs to the Class 7A Final Four.

Central fell to North Paulding 8-3 and 6-3, but he Bulldogs had left their mark in school history.

“I hope we have a state champion in the future years,” Robbins said. “But yeah, it’s really cool to say we’re the best team to ever come through the school in 65 years. In the end, it’s just a ton of buddies getting together to play baseball.”

9. Denmark 4x800 relay team posts national best; Osifo, Nelson shine at state meet

There isn’t a 4x800 relay team in the nation that ran a faster time than Denmark’s group of Tavian Anderson, Ethan Ashley, Hayden Hare and Karthik Kochuparambil.

Denmark set a national standard with a final time of 7:44.21 at the Class 7A state championships in Powder Springs this spring. The Danes were remarkably consistent, with Anderson and Hare each running a 1:57, Ashley turning in a 1:55, and Kochuparambil leading with a 1:53.

Ashley’s championship in the spring served as a precursor to an utterly dominant cross country season this fall that saw Denmark’s senior runner finish undefeated and collect the Class 7A state championship. Ashley’s dominance continued into the postseason, where he won the Eastbay Cross Country Championships South Regional and finished 23rd at the national race this month.

Forsyth County collected four more track and field state championships in May.

South Forsyth’s Chris Nelson ran a 21.42 in the 200-meter dash to become the first runner in county history to win a state title in the event.

Teammate Riley Jones won a championship of her own, reaching 12 feet in the pole vault, while West Forsyth’s Tyler Norr cleared 15 feet to capture the boys championship.

Isaac Osifo, who cleared 6-11 in the high jump earlier in the year to set a school record, won a state championship in the high jump with a 6-10.

His 6-11 at the Forsyth County Championships placed him among the top jumpers in the nation.

“It’s crazy, because I really didn’t love track at first,” Osifo said after signing to Penn State University. “It just makes my time here worth it. Knowing everything I’ve done since freshman year has led me up to this beautiful moment right now is awesome. I’m glad to be leaving a legacy at West.” 

8. South Forsyth cheer defends title, collects program’s 9th championship

South Forsyth won its second straight state championship last month with a dominant showing at the Class 7A state finals.

The War Eagles topped Mill Creek by 3 ½ points after winning by just one point against Lambert last season.

Through the course of the season, South never finished worse than second place at any meet, including first place finishes at the North Forsyth Classic, the Raider Classic, the McIntosh Invitational and the state meet.

The win marked South’s second state championship in the calendar year after the 2020 state meet was pushed to February 2021 because of COVID-19.

It also marked South’s ninth state championship, dating back to the 1996-97 season when the War Eagles won their first of four straight titles as a member of Class 2A.

Since the creation of Class 7A in 2016-17, no competition cheer program other than South and Lambert has won a state championship. And dating back to the 2012-13 season, the two programs have accounted for nine of the past 10 state championships in Georgia’s highest classification [Lambert 6; South 3].

After the season, South placed three athletes on the All-Region 6-7A team, including Sara Dougherty, Sara Nale and Sammi Polaski.

“This team of coachable, motivated, and resilient athletes means so much to me,” South head coach Shayla Brawner said. “They love one another and will always be remembered as the team that chose to trust and believe in a common goal. This senior class was disciplined and determined to defend our state title. They led by example and constantly encouraged others. I love this team, and my assistant coach Lyndsey Phelps, so much.”

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South Forsyth finished its season by scoring a 105 at the state meet to win the Class 7A championship, which was 3.5 points better than second-place Mill Creek. Photo submitted

7. Lambert alum Seth Beer gets call, homers in first MLB at-bat

Seth Beer learned the morning of Sept. 10 that he was getting the call to make his big-league debut and join the Arizona Diamondbacks ahead of their series against the Seattle Mariners.

By the time the day ended, Beer already owned his first major league home run.

Beer entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and sent the third pitch he saw into the right-field bleachers for a solo home run.

"Of course I was nervous," Beer said after the game. "Versus trying to go like, 'Oh man, I've got to fight this,' I said, 'I'm going to let myself understand that you can be nervous in these situations. This is a big one, obviously. I was just kind of accepting of it. When I was on deck, I kind of let all the weight and emotion hit me at once. I said I'm going to let this happen for 5-10 seconds and then it's over. You know, I've got a job to do."

Beer finished the 2021 season with a .444 batting average [4-for-9] and three RBIs before suffering a season-ending injury to his shoulder while diving for a ball.

Beer hit .287 with 16 home runs, 33 doubles and 59 RBIs in 100 games this year with the Triple-A Reno Aces.

Beer was a three-time All-American at Clemson, where he holds school records in career slugging percentage [.648] and walks-per-at-bat [3.59]. He is tied for second in walks [180] and is fourth in home runs [56]. Beer started every game from April 1, 2016 to June 3, 2018 and reached base in 178 of his 187 games with a plate appearance.

At Lambert, Beer was a two-time Forsyth County News Player of the Year, helping the Longhorns to a Class 6A state championship and the No. 1 spot in two national polls as a sophomore in 2014. As a junior, Beer hit .560 with 18 doubles, eight home runs and 41 RBIs in 29 games.

6. East Forsyth softball captures region title in dominant fashion

Head coach Dan Weber said before the season that he was eager to see if the first-year Broncos could win a few games and steal a playoff spot in Region 7-3A.

Turns out, East Forsyth was good enough to win the whole region.

The Broncos won 23 games and dropped only one region game all season, a narrow 5-4 loss to White County. East responded with a 10-1 win the following day, then clinched the region championship that Friday with a 10-1 victory against Dawson County.

The Broncos swept past Cedar Grove by a combined score of 35-3 in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs before falling to Pierce County in three games.

East will join Class 4A for the 2022-24 reclassification cycle, but the Broncos will return every single player from this season’s memorable postseason run, including ace pitcher Cadence Alberty [17-5, 1.81 ERA, 156 strikeouts], Emily Hutcheson [.465, 39 hits, 21 steals], and Emma Siver [.407, 24 runs scored, 18 RBIs].

“Before anybody showed up, I’m sitting at the first team meeting with the athletic director at Little Mill saying, ‘You think anybody is going to show?’” Weber said. “Once the girls started showing, I told them in that first meeting, let’s just make the playoffs. Once we found out we were pretty decent, we thought we could make a run at [the region championship].”