SUWANEE — The South Forsyth softball team had chances to change the outcomes of each game in its first-round state playoff doubleheader at No. 6-ranked Peachtree Ridge Wednesday. A well-timed hit here, a crisp inning in the field there or even one more strike could have made all the difference.
But the Lady War Eagles couldn’t capitalize on their scoring opportunities, and Peachtree Ridge took full advantage of a series of miscues and walks to knock South out of the Class 6A playoffs, winning 10-2 in the opener and 14-4 in the nightcap.
The second loss was an especially bitter pill to swallow, as the No. 3 seed Lady Eagles (16-14-2) had a 4-2 lead going to the top of the fifth.
But with the prospect of forcing a winner-take-all third game in the series six outs away, the game got away from the Lady War Eagles. No. 2 seed Peachtree Ridge (24-5), aided by two errors on routine plays, scored four in the fifth to take the lead, then put the game out of reach with an eight-run outburst in the sixth.
"When you don’t make those kind of plays, good teams take advantage," South head coach Ronnie Davis said. "We knew we had to play perfect to win today, and we didn’t do that."
South had all the momentum in the second game after breaking a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fourth on two-out RBI singles by Frankie Catinella and Allie Baccari.
It came unraveled quickly. A high pop-up off the bat of the Lady Lions’ leadoff hitter in the fifth popped out of the glove of shortstop Meghan Rud for a two-base error. Maya Johnson singled in that run, then advanced safely to second when Rud’s throw to second was dropped following a ground ball.
Senior pitcher Kaylyn Young still nearly worked out of the jam. After a sacrifice bunt moved the tying run to third with one out and a semi-intentional walk loaded the bases, Young bent her back and fanned Quinn Hill on a 1-2 offspeed pitch for the second out of the inning.
But she lost control of the plate to the next batter, walking in the tying run. Andie McGregor followed that by working the count full, then hitting a ringing single to right to knock in two more.
The full-count swing was one of several long at-bats the Lady Lions worked against Young in the second game. Peachtree Ridge finished with six walks and got hits on five two-strike counts.
"They did a good job of hitting in pitchers’ counts," Davis said. "That [the fifth-inning rally] was the turning point in the game. It’s always crucial when you take the lead that you go out, shut them down and get back off the field."
A South rally in the bottom of the fifth was foiled by a couple of bad breaks. A runner stayed close to first on a pop-up to short right-center to avoid being doubled off, then was forced out at second when the ball fell in.
Amanda Rutkowski hit a screaming line drive right at the Lady Lions’ second baseman — then Peachtree Ridge pulled away against a tired Young in the sixth. With two outs and two runs already in, McGregor delivered a two-strike line drive off Rud’s glove at short to extend the lead to 10-4. That was followed by a second two-run single, then a two-run homer for the final runs of the game.
Rud reached base in all four of her plate appearances in the nightcap, scoring twice. Young was credited with an RBI for a first-inning sacrifice fly that scored Rud.
The first game was put out of reach much earlier. Peachtree Ridge broke open a close game with two gone in the third inning, scoring seven runs before South could get the final out of the frame.
"That first game just got out of hand," Davis said.
South finished their season with an overall record of 15-14 with two ties.