Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Northwest softball’s Forst priority

Freshman’s big hit lifts Jaguars to first-round win over Vikings

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Northwest freshman Emily Forst has been a clutch player for the Jaguars’ softball team all season. With junior Amanda Parker capably filling Forst’s natural shortstop position, Forst stepped in to fill a void at catcher.

All she’s done there is throw out nine of 10 runners attempting to steal and lead the Jaguars offensively with a .500 batting average and 27 runs batted in. So coach Kevin Corpuz felt pretty comfortable when she stepped in to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied at 5 in Friday’s Class 4A West Region first-round clash with Whitman at Magruder.

Forst delivered, per usual. She walloped a line drive to the fence in left field for a double and crossed the plate when the next batter, Anna Lopez, launched a shot beyond Vikings center fielder Samantha Riemer to clinch the 6-5 win.

‘‘As soon as she smacked it I thought it might be going over the fence,” Corpuz said of Forst’s double. ‘‘She’s a very talented player and she’s very clutch. With the game on the line, you want her in there. When it counted, she delivered. That was a good win for us. This time of year, you take any win.”

Northwest advanced to play fourth-seeded Richard Montgomery in the quarterfinals Tuesday, too late to be included in this edition of The Gazette.

Big defensive plays and timely hits are key in high school softball, and Northwest (10-7) had both Friday. Its offense has been reliable all year. Led by Forst, who went 2 for 4 Friday, Parker (.478) and Lopez (.312), the Jaguars are batting .300 as a team. They tallied 10 hits Friday.

Their defense, on the other hand, has been spotty in 2008. But in what Corpuz said was their best defensive performance of the year, they made all the routine plays Friday, except one. Northwest also turned a double play and its outfield, led by center fielder Kathleen Williams and right fielder Emily Burke, was flawless; Williams made several outstanding running catches and Burke threw a runner out at first.

‘‘The biggest factor in this game was their defense,” Whitman coach Karl O’Donoghue said. ‘‘They made incredible plays. We had some great hits and they came up with some great plays.”

Whitman (5-12) was disappointed with Friday’s first-round loss. But the Vikings, mostly sophomores and juniors this year, displayed a lot of tenacity late. Down 5-2, they took advantage of Northwest pitcher Katie Martin’s fifth-inning struggles to tie the game. And they had opportunities to take the lead in the sixth before Martin regained control to pick up two of her three total strikeouts.

‘‘Earlier in the year, that 5-2 lead could’ve easily turned into a 12-2, mercy rule loss,” O’Donoghue said. ‘‘We could’ve made one error and that could’ve just led to a whole bunch of errors. I’m extremely pleased with the fact the girls didn’t give up down 5-2. We’ve improved drastically through the season; it’s like night and day.”