Earning home field advantage often rewards a team with a favorable matchup in the opening round of the postseason.
West Forsyth’s softball team instead drew an opponent that has won three consecutive state championships.
The Lady Wolverines couldn’t stop No. 9-ranked Collins Hill’s quest for a fourth straight title in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs, losing the opening game 9-0 in five innings before dropping the second game of the doubleheader 8-1 Wednesday night in the first playoff series ever hosted on the West campus. The Lady Eagles, who won the Class 5A state championship in 2009, 2010 and 2011, have allowed only four runs in their past seven games.
West’s season is now complete.
"It’s a shame that the matchup fell the way it did, but that was a very good softball team," West coach Justin Rickett said. "We didn’t make some plays tonight and it just didn’t go our way.
"This [West] team was very special and this team worked very hard and accomplished a lot from just a year ago. We went from being a team that finished sixth [out of seven teams] in the region [in 2011] to finishing second in the region and having a chance to win the region and hosting a playoff game."
The Region 7 No. 3 seed Lady Eagles (23-8) put a run on the scoreboard in each of the first three innings off West pitcher Maci Fletcher in Game 1, before breaking out for six more in the fourth and fifth innings.
On the basepaths, Collins Hill’s speed stretched extra bases out of hits throughout the night and pressured Region 6 No. 2 seed West’s defense into errors. Freshman Jamie Hoover tripled in the fourth inning and later scored, and senior Payton Wilson delivered an inside-the-park home run down the left field line in the fifth to drive in the Lady Eagles’ final two runs.
Wolverines’ starting pitcher Avery Migues retired six of the first seven Eagles she faced in Game 2, but Collins Hill broke through for three runs in the third inning. Wilson and Brea Dickey (3-for-4, 3B, 2 RBI, R) delivered RBI singles up the middle that allowed the Lady Eagles to score runners from second, and Laine Simmons narrowly missed a home run with an RBI double off the wall in left-center field that increased the lead to 3-0.
West (17-15) fell behind 5-0 before finding its first opportunity to rally in either game. Following consecutive leadoff singles by Erica Davis and Danielle Bernstein, Jessica Bagwell reached on an error to load the bases with nobody out.
Lady Eagles sophomore starting pitcher Amanda Chance (7 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 H, BB, HBP, 4 K) retired the next three West hitters, and the Lady Wolverines scored their only run on a fielder’s choice hit into by Sara Sloan. Chance pitched a complete game in Game 2 after closing out Game 1 in relief of starter Aeshia Miles.
The Lady Wolverines will lose four seniors to graduation this year.
"This senior group did a great job of leading by example," Rickett said. "For four years — and the two years I was here — they did everything that was asked of them. I’m very proud of this senior group and they’ll be sorely missed."