On Tuesday, the South Forsyth softball team got back to its winning ways, but not without some controversy.
South led by a single run for the majority of its road game against Lambert, but a controversial home run call put them up three runs heading into the final inning. Though the Longhorns were able to wake up offensively in the seventh, the call hurt them in the end, with the War Eagles hanging on to take a critical 3-2 region win.
Heading into the top of the seventh, the War Eagles were clinging to a 1-0 lead, which came in the fourth on an RBI hit from Kayla Mayoros that scored Izzy Hui. Although Lambert had put eight runners on base up to that point, the Longhorns could not bring any of them in, continuing a hitting slump against region opponents that goes back to last week. For the game, Lambert stranded a total of 10 runners.
“It’s hard when your pitcher and your defense feel like they have to be perfect,” Lambert head coach Brooks Youngblood said. “That’s what we’ve been doing offensively. When we do (produce), it’s too little, too late. It’s frustrating.”
Things only became more frustrating for the Longhorns. With two outs and Hannah Marchman at second, South’s Makenna Segal hit a deep fly ball towards the left foul pole. To many observers, the ball fell to the left of the foul pole, but the umpires ruled the play a home run, which elicited protests from the crowd and gave South some critical breathing room.
“(The umpire) had the best view,” South head coach Ronnie Davis said. “There’s nothing I could do when the ball goes up. It’s not in our hands so there’s no kind of reaction to that. That’s solely on that umpire making that call, to make the right call. I thought he made the right call.”
For Lambert, the play certainly hurt, but Youngblood didn't zero in on it. He was more concerned about his team and the struggles they’ve had as of late.
“He said it curled around the pole, so I guess it curled around the pole,” Youngblood said. “I can’t tell from that angle. It’s his call. He’s going to make the call and that’s the way it goes. But again, we didn’t do enough offensively today to let that be the thing that we talk about.”
Despite the late home run, Lambert almost made sure it didn’t matter in their final trip through the order. Sydney Walker, Lindsey Nelson and Brooke Miller all reached with two singles and a walk, loading the bases with no outs in what was the Longhorns’ best offensive opportunity.
After South pitcher Lauren Baccari secured the first two outs, a pop fly off the bat of Kaley Varner was misplayed behind first, allowing Walker and Nelson to score for Lambert and allowing the tying and winning runs into scoring position.
“I just had to focus on one pitch at a time, because if you look ahead and look at the big picture, it makes you freak out a little bit,” Baccari said. “I just had to stay calm.”
She did just that, striking out the final batter to wrap up the one-run victory. Baccari struck out five and allowed five hits and three walks over her complete game effort.
"The bottom line is, when you’ve got that competitor in the circle, you know that she’s going to give her best effort," Davis said. "That’s one of the reasons we have success, it’s because (of) that kid in the circle. It’s the demeanor that she brings to the table more than her performance.”
South moved to 2-1 in Region 5-7A play and is now tied at the top of the standings with Forsyth Central, which lost to West Forsyth on Tuesday. Lambert fell to 1-2.