CONYERS - Katie Ferrell had been carrying Rockdale throughout its first season under coach Justin Arrington. On Tuesday at Salem, Ferrell took her leadership a step further.
The senior threw a complete-game seven-hitter and hit the go-ahead three-run home run in a decisive sixth inning in the Bulldogs' 6-2 victory. Rockdale (13-4) swept the season series from the Seminoles after a 1-0 win Sept. 10.
"Pretty much the same story as every game - Ferrell pitched (and) did a great job," Arrington said. "It's kind of like a broken record. Any time she's out there in the circle, it feels like we got a chance to win it. (She) got a lot of ground balls, real short innings and she worked out of a couple jams. As long as she's in the zone, she's fine."
It looked as if Ferrell wouldn't have a chance to pick up her second win against Salem after firing a one-hit shutout in the first meeting. Salem (9-12) went up 1-0 on an RBI single by Stephanie Brassard and added to its lead when pinch-runner Kendra Jenkins scored on a passed ball. Rylee Rogers continued her solid freshman season, keeping the shutout intact until things fell apart in the top of the sixth.
Lexi Jones led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Candace Johnson. Quilla Franklin and Amber Mitchell both reached on errors, the last of which scored Jones to make it a 2-1 game. After Cidney Scoggins singled, Ferrell followed with the three-run blast that put the Bulldogs up 4-2.
"They just busted it open; when we talked at the beginning of the season, every time you face Heritage and Salem, those are two guys you want to take out," said Arrington, whose team lost 2-1 to Heritage on Sept. 1 and gets a rematch today.
"Led 2-0 until we had some mental errors, fielding bunts and a key error at first and then they hit a home run, and that really broke the game open," Salem coach Stephanie Bassett said. "Things we've worked on ad nauseum at practice ... it's frustrating as a coach, but it was a disappointing loss, it really was."
Arrington was impressed with his team's effort a day after losing 5-1 and striking out 20 times against Eastside ace Amanda Henderson.
"I don't even think I could've hit it," Arrington said of Henderson's effort. "That was one thing I gave the girls props for, they could've easily been down on themselves, they got down two runs ... we ... didn't get down on ourselves in the sixth; appreciate the way the girls bounced back tonight."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.