EAST BEND — When Forbush met East Rutherford in the deciding game of a three-game series Saturday, there were two juniors, seven sophomores, and a freshman in the starting lineup.
They would lose, 6-4, but there they were — on the road — making a third trip to Ellenboro in five days. It was a tough day at the end of a tough week, but there is more than a silver lining to this season.
“I do expect this group to win it in the next two years,” Forbush Coach Rachel Davis said. “You can always catch some unlucky bounces, but if no one gets hurt and everyone comes back … This group — they have all proven themselves.
“We’re at least two deep in every position. I’ve got several options.”
Among the 23 players on the roster at the end of the season were seven freshmen, 11 sophomores, four juniors, and one senior.
Davis said what her team needs to work on can’t be practiced in terms of fielding or hitting or baserunning. “It’s the mental aspect of it,” she said. “They need to continue to prepare for those big-stage games.”
With a schedule featuring 4A foes like West Forsyth (a 6-5 opening-day win) and North Davidson (a 1-0 late-season loss), Forbush is preparing for those “big-stage games,” Davis said.
While they are young in age, they are not short on experience. “They’ve all played the game since they were able to start,” Davis said. “A lot of them play on very competitive travel teams.”
Davis said it is a nice environment to coach in. “I’m thankful for how it is in this area,” she said. “They play on when the high school season ends and up until November.
“They’re used to playing on these big stages. They’re mentally mature about the game.”
The Falcons entered the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference (WPAC) this season. After losing their first conference game, Forbush stormed through the remainder of their conference foes, winning their next 11 — including two games in the conference tournament. They defeated their conference opponents by more than an eight-run advantage over those 11 games.
“Every girls could hit,” Davis said. “Eight of our top nine hitters could hit it out. We had an amazing defense. My outfield was quick.”
Freshman Allison Mitchell stepping in at third base was huge, too, Davis said. “Her normal position was outfield. She’s been one of the best third basemen we’ve seen in a while.” Mitchell was one of five Falcons to be named as all-WPAC this season.
Shortstop Taylor Wooten, one of those seven starting sophomores, was the WPAC Player of the Year. “I had a lot of players who could have been picked for it,” Davis said. “But she’s been very solid. She was very consistent in her hitting and her fielding.”
Junior second baseman Savannah Yale, sophomore pitcher Sydney Miller, and sophomore first baseman Logan Wood were also named all-conference. Junior centerfielder Mallory Choplin and senior leftfielder Reagan Gentry were honorable mention.
The success this season didn’t surprise Davis. “I knew that group of freshmen (now sophomores),” she said. “I had high expectations. They did great things as a JV team.”
Forbush finished 22-6 this season, losing two games to one in the regional series — the de facto state semifinals. Davis said she wasn’t certain what to tell her team after losing series.
“Maybe I would tell them ‘don’t forget the way you feel right now,’” Davis said. “You don’t want that feeling again.”
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or o Twitter @elkinareasports.