South Forsyth figured Lambert wouldn’t slip up as the two schools battle for a Region 6-AAAAAA softball title, so the Lady War Eagles took matters in to their own hands.
Emily Harris scored for South in the first inning and drove in the game-winning run in the fifth as the Lady War Eagles beat Lambert, 2-1, at home on Tuesday to draw even in the region standings.
Both South and Lambert stand at 12-1 in Region 6 with five region games remaining. The Lady Longhorns (15-2 overall) still hold a tiebreaker over South (16-2-1 overall); Lambert beat South, 8-0, on Aug. 21.
“All we can do at this point is control our end of it, because we can’t expect to get help from Lambert or anybody else,” South coach Ronnie Davis said. “Lambert has run through  games without getting beat and they rolled through everybody, so I don’t necessarily see them losing again if they play the ball they’re capable of.”
The top and bottom of Tuesday’s first inning were nearly mirror images of one another: the second batter reached base on an error in both instances. Only one scored.
Lambert second baseman Macy Stovall stood at second base after a dropped fly ball, but South pitcher Katherine Huey (4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K) got a strikeout and a groundout to strand Stovall. South shortstop Emily Harris reached first on a throwing error, moved to second on a fielder’s choice and scored on a two-out single from Huey (2-3, RBI).
“The one error [Lambert] made in the first inning, and all day, ended up coming around to score,” Davis said. “It comes down to execution; some days you do, some days you don’t, and tonight we did.”
“In a game of this caliber and this intensity, it’s those little things that can decide who wins,” Lambert coach Brooks Youngblood said. “They got the hits, made the pitches and made the plays when they needed to.”
Marissa Guimbarda (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER) held the Lady War Eagles in check after the first inning, and Lambert shortstop Savannah Huffstetler pulled the Lady Longhorns even with a line-drive home run to left field to lead off the fourth inning.
Lambert had the leadoff hitter reach in the third, fifth and sixth innings and failed to cash in. Shelby Dean led off the third with a single and did not advance. Skylar Aledia started the fifth with a walk and was retired on a fielder’s choice. Kassidy Krupit opened the sixth with a single and did not score.
“We had some opportunities with getting the leadoff hitter on base and tried to sacrifice bunt. All three times, we were unsuccessful,” Youngblood said. “That’s big. That’s an inning-changer and, as it turns out, a game-changer. We can learn a lot from tonight.”
Davis lifted Huey with two outs in the fifth inning and brought in first baseman Kara Bilodeau to pitch to Huffstetler. Bilodeau (WP, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K) walked Huffstetler on a 3-2 count but struck out Guimbarda with runners on first and third.
South pushed across the winning run in the bottom half of the fifth. Sofia Tapia (1-1, R, BB) lined a one-out single to right field, advanced to second on Stephanie Harris’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a double to right-center from Emily Harris (1-2, R, 2B, RBI) with Lambert center fielder Kaitlin Holloway shaded to left-center. Bianca Mora singled up the middle one batter later, but Harris was gunned down at home by Holloway for the third out.
Bilodeau closed out the Lady Longhorns with two scoreless innings.
“We’ll enjoy it tonight and get back to work to prepare for Johns Creek on Thursday,” Davis said. “When you’re sitting up close to the top, you’re going to get everybody’s A-game. The best teams are able to play in a big ballgame like this and follow it up two days later.”