Neither coach wants to look too far ahead, but the next week will feature arguably the series of the season, to this point.
Lambert and West Forsyth will finally meet on the diamond Tuesday, and the implications are a lot bigger than West coach Mike Pruitt would have guessed at the beginning of the season. While he felt like he had a solid team, he assumed Lambert—ranked nationally—was in a league of its own. Now the Longhorns and Wolverines are neck-in-neck in the Region 6-AAAAAA race.
“I think when the season started, with all of the expectations for Lambert, if you had told me we’d be a game behind them with a chance to tie for the region, I’d take that in a heartbeat,” Pruitt said.
West is 9-2 in the region standings, while Lambert is 9-1. The two teams were set to play last week but had the game pushed back due to rain. Despite the marquee matchup on the horizon, both Pruitt and Lambert coach Drew Ferrer stressed that games prior—Northview for West and Alpharetta for Lambert, both set for Monday—are their only focus.
After all, West fell to Northview, currently just 4-7 in region, 7-6 on March 16.
“I told them after that game, the loss could come back to bite them,” Pruitt said. “We can’t look too far ahead. Our focus is on (Northview), but you can’t sit here and say our guys aren’t excited about the fact we (West and Lambert) are both in the hunt for the championship.”
Alpharetta, at 3-8 in region, doesn’t seem to pose a huge threat to Lambert. However, like Pruitt, Ferrer isn’t hyping Tuesday up just yet.
“We’re just trying to get games in and catch up,” Ferrer said. “We’ve had three games to make up in West, Chattahoochee and Habersham, and we’re almost caught up.”
The reason for Tuesday’s intrigue? As far as numbers are concerned, North Forsyth has been the only team in the region to give Lambert any considerable trouble. While the Raiders split the regular season series with a 2-1 win and a 3-2 loss that was also a pitch away from being, well, a 2-1 win, the Longhorns have outscored other opponents in Region 6-AAAAAA by a combined score of 88-15, through eight games.
On the same note, the top four teams in the league all are from Forsyth County. In third place is North at 8-4, while South is right behind at 7-5.
In a way, North set the bar by neutralizing Lambert’s offense. West won’t want to get shown up. But in the end, both coaches are taking pride in what the current standings mean for the county.
“I actually pull for everyone in the county, as long as we’re not playing them,” Ferrer said. “It’s great to see, and hopefully they can all finish in the final four spots.”
“When you throw all of the talent in the region together, and Forsyth Central is just as talented as anyone, there are a lot of good baseball players. It makes it that much more of a competitive atmosphere,” Pruitt said.