Falcons Rally Late to Top Knights in Eight
Four area schools got together on the softball field at Forbush High School Saturday, April 16th to battle Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Many spectators turned out for the cause, and were rewarded with play from some of the better teams in the area.
The Sauras of South Stokes took on the Bobcats of Glenn in the opening game. The Sauras were in a hole early in this one with the Bobcats scoring seven runs in the bottom of the 1st inning. The Sauras tried to keep pace, but the fourth game against quality competition was too much for them. The Bobcats opened the game up in the 5th inning with five more runs to earn the victory with a final score of 13-4. The Bobcats record climbed to 11-6 overall.
The second game of the varsity double header would involve two Western Regional Champions. The Knights of North Davidson made the trip down to Raleigh last summer to compete for the 4A State Championship, and found friends in the stands as the Falcons of Forbush were there also in the 2A classification.
Both programs post stellar teams again this year. North entered the game with a 16-1 record, and the Falcons with a 14-1 record.
Sydney Miller took the ball for the Falcons with Carson Pace getting the ball for the Knights. This is not the first time these two pitchers have shared the circle. In the early going it was Pace that held the slight advantage. Pace retired the first eight batters she faced with six of those coming by way of strikeout.
Miller wasn't quite as sharp, allowing two hits and a walk through the first four innings. Miller ran into trouble in the 5th when a lead-off walk and a bloop single put runners on first and second with no outs. With her defense behind her, Sydney retired the next three batters to keep the game scoreless.
The game got more difficult for the Falcons in the 6th. Two good hits by the Knights put runners on with a chance to get on the scoreboard. Aggressive baserunning forced a miscue by the Falcons, and allowed the Knights to take a 1-0 lead. With the offense sputtering along, the hopes of Falcon faithful looked bleak.
The Falcons came to the plate in the bottom of the 7th inning with only one hit and two baserunners on the day. The heart of the Falcon order was 0 for Saturday and talking to themselves in the box. Pace stuck to the game plan and managed to get the first two batters. Down to the final out, it looked as if the Knights would be the victors today. [Insert hero here] -- Sydney Miller decided that she had worked too hard to let one unearned run cost the Falcons the game. The first offering from Pace did not get far enough off the plate, and Miller yanked it over the left field fence. The Falcons second hit of the game was a big one that brought new life into the dugout. Free softball for everyone!
Miller set down the Knights in the top of the 8th, and set the scene for Lineberry to redeem herself in the bottom half of the inning. Marissa Lineberry, the Falcon catcher, had the errant throw that allowed the run to score for the Knights. All too fitting for her to get the chance to be the difference in the game, again. Lineberry hit a grounder down to 3rd base that got by the 3rd baseman for a two-base error. Courtesy runner (Bullin) would takeover for Lineberry at second with Kayla Shore coming in to pinch hit. First at-bat of the day - sacrifice winning run to 3rd, please. No pressure, right. Shore drops down a perfect bunt to advance Bullin to 3rd. With the winning run only 60 feet away, Jessie Hunter (only other Falcon to record a hit off Pace) would be the one to end it.
A high chopper to shortstop that was impossible to field in time for a play at the plate was all it took. Falcons go from desperation to celebration.
Congrats to both teams on a well played game, and to all teams that struck another blow to ALS in the fight against the disease.
A Fine Line
The position of the catcher is often unappreciated by the baseball/softball fan base. The job of the catcher is usually unnoticed until something extraordinary happens. The catcher in fact has one of the most demanding positions on the field with the smallest room for error. As a catcher, there is a fine line between "the hero" and "the goat."
The Falcons' catcher, Marissa Lineberry experienced it all during the game against North Davidson. In the third inning, Lineberry erased a lead-off walk by picking off the runner at first base. Later, she came out from behind the plate to cover the bunt and get the runner by a step at first base. Then, in the fifth inning Marissa made an errant throw trying to get the runner at third base; allowing the runner to score the go ahead run. A good throw would have ended the threat by the Knights, but the throw was too far in foul territory for Mitchell to reach.
Three major plays in plain view for the fans, but what about the rest of the game. Miller threw over 100 pitches with 30-35% of those coming with runners on base. Any ball that gets by the catcher is an extra base for the runner, and a potential threat. Catching is not a position for everyone. It is a tough, underappreciated position that Marissa Lineberry fills quite well for the Falcons.
What should be the reward for locking up the conference championship?
(Top Video) When your back is against the wall there really isn't anything left to do but fight. Sydney Miller stepped up in a big way on Saturday by refusing to go quietly in the bottom of the seventh. Sending a shot that landed somewhere around the new bathroom facilities, Miller pushed the game to extra innings.
(Bottom Video) Jessie Hunter runs back to cover the popup in short right field only to have the ball squirt out of her glove. Thankfully, Kelsey Swaim was there in position to snag the ball before it hit the ground. It's nice to have teammates.