The South Forsyth softball team would have liked it if their 10-7 win over North Forsyth on Tuesday had brought about an offensive rebirth. War Eagles head coach Ronnie Davis knew his team better than that, though.
"No, I knew it was going to be low-scoring," Davis said after South's win over West Forsyth on Thursday night.
The War Eagles' 3-1 victory, played at Fowler Park due to West's field having sustained damage from Hurricane Irma's winds, was another tense chapter of their season. South has outright possession of first place in Region 5-7A, but apart from their 15-0 win over Milton on Monday, their region victories have been by an average of just under three runs.
That's made the role of junior pitcher Lauren Baccari that much more important for South. Baccari had possibly her worst outing of the region schedule in the recent win over the Raiders, but her performance on Thursday was a clear bounce-back, as she allowed five hits and one run over seven innings.
"I just know my team is behind me no matter what, either offensively or defensively," Baccari said. "Even if we can't get the job done one way, I know that they're behind me to help get the job done defensively."
South (10-7, 9-3 Region 5-7A) had an auspicious start on offense on Thursday, loading the bases against West starter Hannah Guthrie in the first inning, but the War Eagles on managed to score once in that frame. The Wolverines (6-15, 4-8) tied the game in the bottom of the frame on Guthrie's two-out bloop single to shallow right. South retook the lead and scored the final runs of the game in the third inning on Kelley Bagarose's two-run home run to left, which produced a satisfying echo as it caromed off a light pole.
After that, it was up to Baccari to hold the Wolverines down. Her greatest challenge at times was her own control, as evidenced by the bases-loaded jam she got into in the seventh after two walks, but Baccari induced a pop-out from Kelsey Schell to end the game.
"She's a huge part of it," Davis said of Baccari's importance to the team. "From a defensive standpoint, it all starts with her."
South's has grabbed the outright region lead in what has been a crowded race this year, with North, Lambert and Forsyth Central also jockeying for the No. 1 playoff seed. The standings, however, are far from Davis' mind.
"I told (the team), don't look at it," Davis said. "You play every game to win, and that's how we've got to approach it. You start looking into things too much, and (saying) 'I've got to win,' it's just undue pressure."