The South Forsyth softball team has kept a measured, sober perspective on its performance this year. As the War Eagles rose to the top of a scrambled Region 5-7A and eventually earned a No. 1 seed for the state playoffs, head coach Ronnie Davis would keep talk away from that of the standings and offer critiques of the team's performance, even after wins.
So there was no lamentation, no grasping as missed possibilities when the War Eagles lost twice to Parkview, 7-1 and 5-4, on Wednesday night and saw their season end in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs. The Panthers played better, so they won.
"At this time of the year you've got to play well," South head coach Ronnie Davis said. "You've got to value the ball, and they did a better job than we did of valuing the ball defensively. We gave them some extra outs and didn't make plays that they made."
South's playoff draw was not an easy one. Parkview is a team composed mostly of seniors and loaded with offense – four of the Panthers' full-time starters were hitting .400 or better heading into Wednesday.
And for much of the night, Parkview lived up to their prior performance while the War Eagles' offense scuffled. The Panthers scored first in the first game off Allison Barfield's double, and while Jordyn Harris drove Morgan Kilmer home on an RBI groundout in the third to make it 2-1, Parkview kept producing later on. Barfield hit a two-run home run to make the score 4-1 in the fifth, and when War Eagles pitcher Lauren Baccari exited in the seventh, the Panthers scored two runs to make it 7-1.
Parkview scored three in the first inning of game two to make South's hole a bit deeper. South catcher Cat Rife whacked a solo home run into the trees beyond left field to lead off the second inning, though, and the War Eagles' offense started to stir. South (17-10) loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning and scored runs off Kelley Bagarose's bloop single and Izzy Hui's sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3.
Parkview (22-9) came back with runs in the third and fourth innings, and while South's offense threatened in the seventh, loading the bases again with no outs and getting a run on a fielder's choice, a double play on a lineout ended the game.
It ends on this 4-3 double play. FINAL: Parkview 5, South Forsyth 4. The War Eagles' season ends in the second round of the state playoffs. pic.twitter.com/jNFxgYqtmk— Ian Frazer (@ianmcfrazer) October 19, 2017
The loss prevents South from returning to the state quarterfinals in Columbus like the War Eagles did last year. They wish they were there, Davis and Rife said, but as was the case all year, they saw more than the immediate result. Rife, a senior, mentioned the group of younger contributors, like Makenna Segal, Izzy Hui and Morgan Kilmer, that are set to return to the program.
"Absolutely, I was hoping to go further (this season), but I think that everything happens for a reason," Rife said. "So maybe this'll kick us in the butt for next year to work even harder."
Davis again took a broader perspective in his postgame comments, this time to look back on the successes of the season.
"It's been a fun run this season, seeing kids just come together," Davis said. "In order to be successful, we had to come together as a team, and everybody had to play a part. That's the thing that really stands out more than anything."