Leesville Road coach Leigh Ann Genetti told her team to approach Thursday’s game against Wake Forest like any other, but the midseason Cap Eight matchup was a big one.
Both teams were undefeated entering the game, and Wake Forest is an area power, falling in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championship last year. The Pride won 4-3 win in 10 innings and is in first place in the Cap Eight.
“We try to take the same approach with every team no matter who we’re playing, so we didn’t really talk the game up,” Genetti said. “I think we did a good job of sticking to our game plan of swinging at strikes, swing hard and have good defense.”
The Pride staged a big seventh-inning defensive stand, holding the Cougars scoreless to force extra innings though Wake Forest loaded the bases with no outs.
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Three innings later, Leesville Road sophomore Alex Sohn drove in Erin James, who reached base on a Cougars error, for the winning run.
“The truth is that we didn’t deserve to win,” Wake Forest coach Sam Hershey said. “We didn’t hit at all. I think we had one hard hit ball all game. (Leesville Road) came up with big hits and that’s the difference. We had bases loaded, nobody out and we can’t get a run; that’s on us. I’m not going to single out one defensive play or one thing. It’s collectively as a team we didn’t hit at all.”
Wake Forest got on the board first in the third inning after Delane Smith reached base on a walk and Cassidy Dahle reached on an error. Smith scored on an infield throw and Dahle moved to third, setting up an RBI single by Anna Wolfe to put Wake Forest up 2-0. Wolfe later scored the final Cougars run in the sixth inning on a Brooke Lee single.
That didn’t rattle the Pride, who scored on an Avery Morris double in the bottom of the third and tied the game in the sixth on Laura Zievis’ two-run double.
“Perfect defense would be nice, but we don’t always have perfect defense, so we try to just instill that we fight, fight, fight, and even though we may make a few errors, it’s how we bounce back from that throughout the rest of the game that matters,” Genetti said.
Morris struck out six Wake Forest batters for Leesville, and Cougars pitcher Chelsey Cunningham struck out seven.
The teams are scheduled to face off again May 2 at Wake Forest, but for now, the Pride is in the Cap Eight drivers seat.
“Last year we had the ability and we had the team, and maybe this year the maturity and focus is a little bit stronger and they’re coming together as a team,” Genetti said. “This is a big win because historically it has been a big rivalry, but it’s just another conference game and we have a game tomorrow. I told the girls to enjoy it for right now, but from this point forward we have to think about Millbrook tomorrow. That’s just as big of a game.”
Millbrook is 3-2 in the conference, just behind third-place Heritage (3-2) after falling at Heritage Wednesday. Leesville Road plays at Millbrook Friday at 4 p.m. while Wake Forest hosts Sanderson at 7 p.m.