In the first official intra-county matchup of the 2022-23 school year, Abby Williams proved to be the difference.
The West Forsyth senior pitched seven solid innings in the circle and helped her own cause with a go-ahead, two-run homer late in a 4-2 victory Saturday at East Forsyth.
While the Wolverines seemed to battle some early nerves, allowing an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning, Williams managed to keep her team in the game against the reigning Region 7-3A champion Broncos. West Forsyth (1-0) eventually evened the score in the fourth frame, when Lindleigh Cole singled, stole second base and scored on a double by Riley Conroy.
East Forsyth (0-1) surged back ahead in the fifth inning but missed out on a chance to tack on more.
Ava Cowart and Emily Hutcheson recorded consecutive singles to place runners on the corners. Pitcher Cadence Alberty, who finished with six strikeouts in her complete-game effort, drove home Cowart with a groundout to shortstop for a 2-1 edge. However, the Wolverines caught Hutcheson trying to advance to third base on the play, with Grace Harvey putting the tag on her to complete an inning-ending, 6-3-5 double play.
Seemingly buoyed by the key defensive play to close the fifth, West Forsyth quickly took the lead in its next turn at bat.
After a leadoff single by Paige Carroll, Williams launched her two-run blast to left field to suddenly put the visitors up for the first time.
The Wolverines, playing in head coach Steve Bohn's debut, pushed across an insurance run, as well.
With one out, Cole doubled. Conroy followed with a single, making her 3-for-3 on the day, to put runners at first and third. Rylee Ramirez came through with an RBI groundout to extend West Forsyth's lead to 4-2.
Williams closed out her impressive performance by striking out the side in the home half of the seventh. The right-hander finished with six Ks. She allowed just one earned run on five hits and one walk.
South Forsyth opens with pair of wins
Head coach Leanne Brooks couldn't have drawn up a much better start to South Forsyth's regular season.
The War Eagles pulled away late for an 8-1 victory over Hebron Christian before dominating defending Class 7A champion North Gwinnett in a 7-1 win during games Saturday at Mill Creek.
Against Hebron, South Forsyth (2-0) manufactured a run in the second inning. Kennedy Ariail singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Annie Rose and scored off Reesie Burch's base hit.
Following an Emme Souter double and Ariail single to begin the fourth, Rose drove in a run with another successful sac bunt. Burch followed with her second run-scoring hit for a 3-0 advantage.
Despite struggling to get much going against War Eagles pitcher Ellie Balose, the Lions hung around until a five-run top of the seventh put the game out of reach.
Madilyn Parmele recorded an RBI single; Ariail drew a bases-loaded walk; Rose singled home a pair; and Ariail scored on a passed ball.
A one-out, run-scoring single after back-to-back leadoff walks ended South Forsyth's shutout bid. However, Balose coaxed consecutive groundouts to escape further damage.
Coming off the win, the War Eagles turned right around to play the Bulldogs, who took the field for their first game since capturing the 7A title last year in Columbus. North Gwinnett didn't lose a single time during the 2021 playoffs, finishing with a perfect 8-0 record.
South Forsyth wasn't intimidated in the slightest, jumping out quickly with a first-inning run. Ansley Chiang drew a leadoff walk, and Ariail brought her in with a two-out triple.
After wasting a pair of singles in the second frame, the War Eagles took advantage of two errors by the Bulldogs in the third.
Ariail drove home Sarah Quian with a sacrifice fly, and Karly Casey recorded a key two-out, two-run double to score Charlotte Brooks and Audrey Hui. Quian and Hui both reached on defensive miscues.
Another three-run inning followed in the fourth, giving South Forsyth plenty of breathing space.
Josie Crossman singled, Chiang doubled and Quian doubled to score both. Ariail capped the outburst with her second sac fly, again scoring Quian.
Even though North Gwinnett finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs ran out of time to pose a legitimate threat. Literally. The tournament setup required teams to only finish the batter — not the inning — when the time limit was reached. As such, the game ended with two outs and runners at second and third base.
Crossman tossed all 4 2/3 innings for South Forsyth. She limited North Gwinnett to three hits, while recording the same number of strikeouts.
Forsyth Central finishes 1-2 on South Georgia trip
Forsyth Central made a long trip south to kick off its 2022 season, picking up a one-sided win but dropping a pair over the weekend.
The Bulldogs opened their campaign with a 7-4 defeat Friday at Tift County.
Forsyth Central led 3-0 through three innings before Tift County rallied to take a 4-3 lead after five. While the Bulldogs managed to tie the score in the top of the sixth, the Blue Devils put together a three-run rally in the bottom of the frame to secure the win.
In a pair of games Saturday at Lowndes, Forsyth Central started the day off with a resounding 14-1 victory over Berrien and concluded it with a 6-1 loss to the hosts.
Playing as the designated home team in the opener, the Bulldogs (1-2) exploded for eight runs in the first inning and six in the second after briefly falling behind 1-0.
Reagan Bump homered in the win. Kylie McTier and Avery Clemons each finished 2-2, with the former scoring twice and the latter driving in two runs. Keeley O'Hara recorded three RBIs.