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Softball: South tops Central to clinch region title
South Forsyth's Lauren Baccari delivers a pitch against Forsyth Central on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia

If the South Forsyth softball team had followed head coach Ronnie Davis' advice to the letter, the War Eagles wouldn't have known the significance of their game on Tuesday night against Forsyth Central. The cheers and congratulations showered upon them after their 6-2 win would have been an unexplained surprise. 

"The one thing that I told them all season is when you put on a uniform, every time you put it on, you play to win," Davis said. "Don't look at the standings. Just come to the park with the same focus and the same process every single day."

But the players cheated a bit. They knew that a win over the Bulldogs would clinch the Region 5-7A championship, putting the War Eagles at least two games up in the standings with one region game to play. They currently lead second-place Lambert by two games after the Longhorns won on Tuesday.

"We all did know what was happening," South shortstop Jordyn Harris said.

Forsyth Central outfielder Karah Straub dives to try to make a catch against South Forsyth on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia
That knowledge didn't cause any extra nerves, Harris said, and that was evident in South's tight, urgent play. The War Eagles (14-8, 11-3 Region 5-7A) put their first four runners on against Bulldogs pitcher Kristi Brower, who was filling in for Bailey McCachren after McCachren had her appendix removed, and South got all four of those runners home. 

While Brower did settle down considerably after the first frame, South kept adding on. Makenna Segal doubled to score Lauren Baccari in the fourth inning, and Harris from first base scored on an aggressive baserunning play in the sixth, rounding second as Central (14-8, 8-6) tried to throw out Baccari and coming home when the throw to third scooted away. 

"At the beginning (of the season) we got people on, but we couldn't get them in," War Eagles first baseman Kelley Bagarose said. "Now we've worked on that, and it's working out."

That collaborative approach is what will stick in Davis' mind about this year's team. South hasn't had a clear superstar -- and there are few, if any, in the county as a whole -- so the most important contributions have come from diverse characters, from promising freshmen like Segal to reliable seniors like Harris and Bagarose.

The War Eagles still want more out of their season, like a return trip to Columbus in the state playoffs. They aren't going to just forget about Tuesday, though. 

"You always shoot for loftier goals," Davis said. "But it's always good along the way, at some point in time, just to get a little bit of something that rewards you for doing what's right."