South Forsyth's juniors Katherine Huey and Bianca Mora have built a lot of familiarity with each other as club teammates, so when the pitcher-catcher duo struggled with consistency in the Lady War Eagles' season opener Wednesday night against county rival West Forsyth, “rust” seemed like a good way to describe what looked like a loss.
That was, until the bottom of the seventh inning when that same duo saved the game at the plate with two outs, as Huey doubled to score Emily Harris and Mora and give South a 5-4, walk-off win to start the year.
“Sometimes when you're too good of friends, it can be too much when you play together,” South head coach Ronnie Davis said. “But there are people that turn those situations into great memories.”
Trailing 4-3, Mora stepped to the plate with two outs and fell behind in the count, 0-2. The very next pitch was a rope from West closer Hannah Guthrie that just missed the bottom-right corner, drawing gasps from the home crowd. After Mora saw the third pitch she flared the next one down the first base line to advance Harris to third.
Huey faced an 0-2 after two swinging strikes before clobbering the game-winner to deep left-center field.
Heading into the final frame, Mora and Huey, who bat three and four in the lineup, respectively were a combined 0-for-6 at the plate. Earlier in the game, a wild pitch and passed ball from those two helped West's Carlie Behan around the horn before she scored on a sacrifice fly to score the game's first run. South committed three more errors before the game was over, helping West to a 4-2 lead through six innings.
“A win is a win, but we've got a long way to go,” Davis said. “West has girls who can hit the ball around, and we knew that going in. They've already played some games and we just had our club girls get back from nationals this week, so we've barely gotten practice in.
“Any time we play West, it's tough. They're always tough.”
"I'm really proud of our girls for putting ourselves in situations to win the game against a very good South team," West coach Justin Rickett said. "We just came up a little bit short, tip your hat to them."
West entered the contest 2-1 and had already scored 25 runs in three games. Huey dusted off moments of frustration to finish with four strikeouts against seven hits allowed to West batters before her game-saving swing also earned her a complete game.
The sophomore Behan, who batted eighth in the lineup for the Lady Wolverines, finished 2-for-2 with three runs scored and a home run that tied the game at 2-2, while Alana Frye went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI from the two-hole.
"That was a big game for (Behan). She had a big hit in a big situation. It's one of those things you don't expect to happen, but you like it when it does. I've never seen her hit a home run before, so it was a big moment," Rickett said.
West starting pitcher Kelly Carpenter managed a strong performance, finishing with just four hits to her name and two walks despite not striking out a single batter.
Top 3rd: B. Concatto SAC FLY, C. Behan scores (1-0)
Bot 3rd: J. Palmer scores off passed ball (1-1)
E. Harris SINGLE, J. Harris scores (1-2)
Top 5th: C. Behan HOME RUN (2-2)
A. Poe SINGLE, C. Carpenter scores (3-2)
Top 6th: A. Frye SINGLE, C. Behan scores (4-2)
Bot 6th: A. Kilmer SINGLE, K. Bagarose scores (4-3)
Bot 7th: K. Huey DOUBLE, E. Harris and B. Mora score (4-5)