If opposing teams want to pitch around Makenna Segal, that's fine.
They'll just have to deal with Isabel Hui.
Hitting third in the lineup Thursday — one spot behind Segal — Hui went 2 for 4 with three RBIs, including a two-run double in the first inning, helping South Forsyth past Lambert, 4-0.
South head coach Leanne Brooks configures the lineup that way because she is betting on Segal reaching base. Where it gets tricky is finding offensive production to drive in her talented junior after she reaches base.
“We’re really trying to minimize situations to where we left
free bases open in front of Makenna," Brooks said. "A lot of times what we’ve seen is, if first
base is opened up, that’s where they’re going to walk her. So, we moved her up
in the lineup to kind of create, still someone on base in front of her,
hopefully, but still have another strong stick behind her, so even if they walk
her, hopefully we’ll still be able to make something happen.”
Lambert took the bat out of Segal's hands twice Thursday, once in the fourth inning with an intentional walk, then with a four-pitch walk in the sixth. Segal singled in her other two plate appearances.
Meanwhile, Hui is starting to heat up, going 3 for 6 with four RBIs in South's past two games.
Her first hit Thursday drove in Segal as well as sophomore Ashley Chu, who started the game with a single. Hui's single in the second inning plated junior Ruthie Allen after Allen took second base on a wild pitch, then advanced to third on a Segal single.
Hui had a chance to bust the game open in the fourth inning when she came to the plate with runners on first and second with one out. But Hui bounced into a fielder's choice, allowing Lambert to nab the lead runner at third base.
Hannah Marchman was magnificent for South, firing a complete-game shutout, allowing just five hits — all singles.
Lambert threatened in the fifth inning when Colleen Thorson poked a pinch-hit single into center field, then advanced to second after Kaley Varner walked.
But Ansley Hyde struck out, Madison Todd gave herself up on a sacrifice bunt, and leadoff hitter Lindsey Nelson flew out to left field to strand Thorson and Varner in scoring position.
“These girls are good enough," Lambert head coach Brooks Youngblood said. "They all play at a high level, they see different types of pitching all the time, and they’re good enough hitters to where they need to be able to adjust to that. They should be able to adjust to that, and they didn’t do it. For whatever reason, I don’t know. I think we’re still kind of searching a little bit.”
Central pitcher Bailey McCachren dominated Lambert on Wednesday, striking out 16 and giving up just two hits in a complete-game shutout.
Lambert beat South 6-3 on Aug. 27, which was the first of three straight wins for the Longhorns. But North Forsyth snapped Lambert's winning streak with a 5-2 win, and the Longhorns own a four-game skid since then.
“I think we felt like we were in that game," Youngblood said of the loss to North. "We were hanging tough, then a couple bad breaks. So, you lose that one, and I think that kind of got to them a little bit. I think since then we’ve been scuffling, trying to find that edge again.”
Despite entering the game in the fifth inning, Thorson led the Longhorns with a pair of hits in just two at-bats.
Lambert (5-12, 3-5 Region 5-7A) will try to get back into the win column on Tuesday when the Longhorns travel to West Forsyth, while South (10-10, 4-4 Region 5-7A) steps out of region play on Saturday for a doubleheader against Archer and Collins Hill.
“They all want it. They’re all pushing for it and they’re all making it apparent to everyone else and leaning in that direction," Youngblood said. "I think they’re having a hard time figuring out, ‘What does that mean for me? What do I need to do to make that happen?’ And we’re waiting on them to step up in big moments, and we’re waiting for that person to do that.”