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Softball: South pressures North for first place
Lady War Eagles score two in each of first two innings
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South Forsyths Amanda Rutkowski singles to left-center during the first inning against North Forsyth on Tuesday at War Eagle Field. - photo by Jared Putnam

South Forsyth wasn’t ready to concede the No. 1 seed in the Region 6-AAAAAA tournament to North Forsyth just yet.

The Lady War Eagles scored a pair of runs in each of the first two innings and held on for a 4-2 win over the Lady Raiders on Tuesday at War Eagle Field, drawing the two teams even in the region loss column.

South (13-10-2, 8-2 region) is now finished with its regular season schedule, while North (12-8, 6-2 region) entered Wednesday set to play West Forsyth, before facing Alpharetta on Thursday. The Lady War Eagles are assured of at least the second seed in the tournament, which begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Fowler Park, while a North loss in either of its final two games would give South the No. 1 seed.

"If we’re fortunate enough for somebody to help us out, we’ll take it," South coach Ronnie Davis said.

"The first game against North, we didn’t hit the ball well and didn’t hit spots [pitching]. They were able to take advantage of it because they’re a very good hitting team. Tonight was different because we were able to locate [pitches] better."

South outfielder Allie Baccari finished 3-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored, and starting pitcher Kaylyn Young (7 IP, 1 K, 2 R, 4 H, 6 BB) went the distance for the Lady War Eagles after being roughed up in a 9-1 loss to the Raiders earlier in the season.

Young allowed two runs in the third inning and a total of 11 baserunners for the game, but finished strong by retiring the final seven batters she faced.

"I think we settled in and made the plays we needed to make," Young said. "My pitching was a little better [than the first game against North], so I was able to help the team there.

"The defense really stepped up and had my back. There probably would have been a couple [hits] drop in [to score runs], but my center fielder Frankie [Catinella] caught them for me."

Said Davis: "I think at times, even though we scattered six walks, [Kaylyn] was wildly effective, I guess you’d say."

South got on the board in the first inning with the help of an illegal pitch call on North starter Sydney Turner.

With Baccari standing on first courtesy of a one-out single, Young appeared to line out for the second out, but the umpire waved off the play and Young later drew a walk.

"When they put pressure like that on your starting pitcher, making her think about something besides throwing strikes, that puts a lot of pressure on your whole team," North coach Bud Henderson said. 

"[The umpire] was saying she was crow-hopping, coming up above the plane of the mound, which is a ball every time she does it. She has to [then] refocus on that foot, and it’s hard to focus on that foot and the glove at the same time and throwing the right pitches."

A single by Amanda Rutkowski loaded the bases, and South put two runs across the plate via a ground out and an error.

South again got two runners on with one out in the bottom of the second thanks to a single by Catinella and a walk to Meghan Rud.

Baccarri followed with a two-run double to deep left, doubling the lead to 4-0.

"She accounted for three of the four runs," Davis said of Baccari. "Putting some runs up early always builds a lot of confidence."

Katie York and Andrea Coleman delivered back-to-back, one-out singles for North in the third and later scored on a sac fly by Savannah Chapman and an error.

North loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, but Young got Rachel Mixon to line out to shortstop to end the threat, then retired the Raiders in order the final two innings.