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Softball: South tops Newton in state playoffs with two run-rule wins
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The South Forsyth softball team celebrates as Makenna Segal heads home after hitting a home run in the first game of the War Eagles' state playoff doubleheader against Newton on Oct. 9, 2018 at South Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

Success came quickly and abundantly for the South Forsyth softball team in its first-round state playoff doubleheader against Newton on Tuesday. On the second pitch of the first game, Makenna Segal whacked a solo home run to left field. Eleven batters later, South had put up a quick seven runs on the Rams. 

The War Eagles won that first game 10-2 in six innings and took the second one 13-0 in four, which was punctuated by a 10-run fourth inning. South still found teaching moments, though, in the fallow period in the first game. 

"Everybody focuses so much on how to deal with adversity," South head coach Ronnie Davis said. "Sometimes, you've got to learn to handle success, too."

Davis' main quibble was with the War Eagles' overly aggressive ways in the first game, which manifested in a glut of fly ball outs. Indeed, 10 of the 12 outs South recorded in the second through fifth frames in that game came through the air. 

"We tend to overswing when we get up big, but (finding) the discipline again really put us in a good spot," War Eagles catcher Kylie League said. "I think coming out in the second game and being more disciplined is what helped us put more runs on the board that game."

South's hitters kept the ball down better in the second game, and they found plentiful solid contact and gaps in Newton's defense. Pitcher Lauren Baccari also fixed the control issues she struggled with in the first game and retired all 12 batters she saw in the second. Segal, who had been pitched around meticulously in the region schedule, found more pitches to hit on Tuesday, and she had three doubles and a home run in the second game.

The War Eagles' win sets up a second-round series at Mill Creek, one of the best teams in Class 7A, with a 26-3 record. The Hawks beat South 9-4 earlier in the year, and Davis is fully aware of the difficulty of the matchup.

"It's going to be a battle," Davis said. "We have to play good defense, first and foremost, to give ourselves any kind of a chance."