South Forsyth softball coach Ronnie Davis strode to the mound as his Lady War Eagles nursed a one-run lead with one out in the top of the seventh and the tying run on third. Pitcher Katherine Huey was nearing 100 pitches, and Peyton Erb, West Forsyth’s No. 3 hitter, waited 40 feet away.
Davis reminded Huey and his assembled infielders to stay calm and confident in a pressure-packed situation.
Huey retired Erb on a soft line drive to shortstop Emily Harris, forcing Caitlin Parks to hold at third, then induced a tapper back to the mound and threw to first for the final out. West plated two runs in the final inning, but their rally came up just short in a 5-4 loss at South on Thursday.
“I told them before the game, you’ve got to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations,” Davis said. “The team that handles adversity best usually wins. I thought we handled it pretty good, even when things got shaky there at the end.”
South (10-2-1, 8-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) could have built a sizeable lead over West (8-7, 6-4) in the first two innings, but the Lady War Eagles managed just one run — Huey (1-3, RBI) singled home Stephanie Harris (1-2, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB) — and left four runners on base.
West pitcher Kelly Carpenter (6 IP, 9 H, 5 R (4 ER), 3 K) settled in to retire South in order in the third and fourth.
“[Kelly] did a great job with runners on base to get out of some tough situations,” West coach Justin Rickett said. “She made her pitches when she needed to.”
Bianca Mora atoned for South’s earlier struggles with a two-run double in to the left field corner in the fifth that scored Sofia Tapia (3-3, 2 R, 2B, RBI) and Stephanie Harris, vaulting the War Eagles to a 3-1 lead.
“[West] came back to tie it at 1-1, and what did we do? We came right back and scored two runs — that’s what good teams do,” Davis said.
West catcher Alana Frye (2-2, RBI) drew the Wolverines back within one in the sixth with a single to center to drive home Erb. Huey (7 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 K) hit the West center fielder with a pitch to begin the frame.
Stephanie Harris didn’t know it at the time, but her two-out, line drive double over Erb’s head that gave South a 5-2 lead would provide the winning margin.
“You need to have the confidence to step up to the plate in big situations,” Davis said. “Some kids who hadn’t yet had big hits came through with big knocks for us tonight.”
Huey, her right (pitching) arm laced with kinesio tape, threw just one warm-up pitch before the seventh inning.
West left fielder Courtney Canady reached on a South error to start the inning, went to second base on a fielder’s choice and stole third. Bailley Concatto (2-3, R, RBI, BB, SB) grounded to third and beat the throw for an infield single before Caitlin Parks laced an RBI double to right-center. Concatto sprinted home on a wild pitch and Parks — the tying run — moved to third.
She didn’t go any further.
“We made a couple great pitches in on the thumbs to get Erb and [Hayla Seitz] out,” Davis said. “This game could’ve gone either way.”
It was reminiscent of West’s 9-8 loss to Lambert on Aug. 19, when the Wolverines scored six runs in the seventh and left the tying run on base.
“Again, we kept battling on the road against a very good pitcher,” Rickett said. “I can’t say anything negative about my girls, and I told them that. If they’ll bring that every day, they’ll be just fine.”