A short-handed Franklin County High softball team made too many mistakes early, and the No. 8-rated Male Bulldogs were much too good to let the Lady Flyers get away with it, beating FCHS 9-2 Thursday at Sally Gaines Field.
Male (21-9) pushed across two runs in the first, one in the second and four in the third to break it open.
Coach Tracy Spickard’s Lady Flyers were missing six players, including four starters, due to a scheduling conflict at school.
“We have struggled recently to find consistency in our play, in particular defensively, just maintaing focus every pitch, every play, and it was obvious tonight the first half of the game we didn’t have that,” Spickard said after her team fell to 17-11. “There were routine ground balls that we’re letting go right by us because we’re not getting our glove in the dirt. We have routine fly balls and balls thrown to us that we don’t watch all the way into our glove.
“Teams are going to take advantage of that. At least seven of their nine runs were unearned. You play fundamental softball, and it’s a totally different game.”
The first inning was a case in point of how it went for Franklin County. Sophomore pitcher Kara Howard of the Lady Flyers struck out the first two batters she faced. Katie Watson of Male then lined a single to center field, and then the Lady Flyers botched a routine ground ball for an error that led to two runs by the Bulldogs.
Two more Franklin County errors led to four Male runs in the fourth.
Spickard said she would not buy inexperience as an excuse, even with the starters missing.
“We were short four starters, but that’s no excuse,” she said. “We still had people who are very capable of playing the game. We still should have executed, and we did not.
“I will give them credit,” Spickard added of the Lady Flyers. “The last three innings they did play hard, battled back, and finally got a little more mentally tough. But the first half to three fourths of the game, we were not mentally there.”
Franklin County’s defensive lapses made a hard-luck loser of Howard on the mound.
“She is always going to play hard, and she’s always going to give her best,” Spickard said of Howard. “But we’ve got to play better defense behind her. You can’t consistently give teams bases and give teams runs and be successful.”
Franklin County mustered five hits, all singles, off of Male pitcher Ally Miozza, but Spickard suggested the Lady Flyers were also not fundamentally great at the plate.
“We popped it up in the infield at least four or five times, and we didn’t put the ball in the grass (outfield) for the first five innings except for one time,” Spickard said. “Towards the end of the game we started hitting the ball harder, but you have to do that consistently to force teams to play defense.”
Franklin County finally pushed across two runs in the sixth off of Miozza, on infield singles by Autumn Ferrell, Howard, Macy Johnson and Brianna Banks.
Sydney Wiard also had a single in the game for FCHS.
The Lady Flyers host Garrard County today at 5:30 p.m.