Franklin County's softball team has waited a long time to reach the state tournament. The Lady Flyers' reward is a first-round game against No. 7 Middlesboro.
"When you get to this point there are no easy draws," FCHS coach Tracy Spickard said. "I know they're 35-2 and have had a great, great season."
Middlesboro won the 13th Region title for the fifth straight year last week with an 11-1, five-inning victory over Bell County. It was the Lady Jackets' sixth regional title since 1995.
In contrast Franklin County, 27-13 and tied for 25th in the last state rankings, will be making its first appearance in the state fast-pitch softball tournament. FCHS was in the state slow-pitch tournament in 1987.
FCHS and Middlesboro will play at 11 a.m. (CDT) at Tie Breaker Park in Hopkinsville Friday.
"We faced them two years ago at the Conner tournament," Spickard said of the Lady Jackets, "and they basically have the same bunch of kids - the same pitcher, Jessica Bradley, the same catcher, the same first baseman. They're a good, scrappy bunch from what I hear. I've only seen them play a couple of innings this year."
But in a double elimination tournament that will feature 16 teams and 30 games in two days, most coaches are focusing on their teams.
"You have to step up and play your game," Spickard said. "You have to execute your game. There are 16 teams left, and they had to play their games to get to this level. Execution is a huge, huge factor."
For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.