South Forsyth sophomore Anna O’Connor substituted as a pinch runner three times during regulation innings against Lambert on Thursday evening, though she didn’t spend much of that time running.
In the bottom of the eighth, subbing for default runner Kayla Mayoros after she reached third on a wild pitch, O’Connor finally got the green light. A passed ball brought O’Connor home on a bang-bang play at the plate, and an incidental slide into Lambert pitcher Marissa Guimbarda's lower leg jarred the ball loose at the plate, giving South a dramatic 6-5 victory over its rival from down the road.
For South (4-0, 3-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) it was the second walk-off victory over a Forsyth County rival, following a 5-4 win over West Forsyth on Aug. 12. Lambert suffered its first loss of the young season (2-1, 2-1 Region 6-AAAAAA).
“It’s not nerve wrecking, but you don’t want the kids necessarily to feel like they can flip the switch in the seventh or extra innings,” South head coach Ronnie Davis said. “If we play smarter ball we win that regulation and win by two runs.”
Both coaches saw strategies to walk batters, or not, work against them. On O’Connor’s winning sprint, Lambert head coach Brooks Youngblood saw a deliberate ball hit the dirt—the strategy was to walk two-straight batters.
“At the end we were just trying to walk two girls in a row, in softball you’ve got to throw the pitches. In high school baseball you just tell them to put them on, so things like that happen,” Youngblood said.
South led 5-2 after five innings thanks to two-run frames in the third and fifth innings, but Lambert’s Kassidy Krupit found the equalizer in the top of the sixth when she blasted a two-run home run to left-center, bringing home Guimbarda who preceded the deep shot with an RBI-double. With two outs, Davis considered walking Krupit, but let his starting pitcher, Katherine Huey, stick to it after getting ahead 0-2.
“To even create these last minute heroics, I should have intentionally walked Krupit there,” Davis said. “We went outside, I told them to stick with it, and then we tried to make an out pitch when we didn’t need to. She was one of the kids who we said, if the game was on the line we cannot let her beat us.”
Krupit also brought home Katlin Holloway and Guimbarda on a two-RBI double of her own in the third, and finished the game with four RBIs and a triple away from hitting for the cycle.
Huey pitched eight innings, scattering eight hits and walking three while striking out nine batters. Guimbarda pitched seven innings for the Lady Longhorns, finishing with seven hits allowed, two walks and one strikeout.
South’s offense was led by Bianca Mora, who went 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Sophia Tapia went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Emily Harris scored twice after being walked twice.
Guimbarda finished 2 for 4 with two runs scored, while Holloway and Zoe Miller each scored runs as well.