The Franklin County High School baseball team appears to have all the tools needed to make its deepest postseason run since 2001’s Final Four team.
The Flyers have the hitting (batting around .360), defense and pitching, along with great senior leadership from Zach Arnold, Logan Crum, Eric Meyer and Nick Redmon.
“We have a really, really good team,” says catcher Arnold, a University of Kentucky signee. “We have the pitching, the defense, and we certainly have the bats. I’m very confident about our team.”
But, perhaps most importantly, coach Deron McDonald’s Flyers have the maturity to realize that all the warm and fuzzy numbers garnered through a 27-8-1 regular season will mean nothing if they don’t perform Tuesday in the district tournament against Frankfort High.
The FCHS-FHS game starts at 5:30, followed by Western Hills against Woodford County around 8. The district championship game will be Wednesday night at 6:30, with both finalists moving to the regional tournament the following week in Lexington.
“I’ve told them this is probably the best team we’ve had since that 2001 class, and they’ve got a legitimate shot to win the region,” McDonald said after his Flyers edged Scott High, 4-3, in the regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon. “But it all starts Tuesday night. They have to take care of business against Frankfort High before they start looking to Wednesday.
“We’ll have a long discussion about that on Monday, about not overlooking anybody, because if I remember right, that 2001 group barely won their first district game (over Western Hills). After that they went on and played really well the rest of the way.”
Most of the best elements of the Franklin County arsenal were on display in Saturday’s win over Scott’s Eagles.
McDonald’s team rode strong pitching from Redmon (four innings) and sophomore Quenton Brownlee, superb defense (just one error) and a typically balanced nine-hit attack to the win.
Although the game was obviously close throughout, the Flyers appeared in control all the way. The lone fault in this one was impatience at the plate with runners on base.
And there were a lot of runners on base for Franklin County. In five of their six at-bats, the Flyers put at least two runners on base. In three cases, Franklin County loaded the bases with no outs but pushed across only three runs in those opportunities.
But McDonald said that is atypical of this Flyer bunch.
“I think we had some kids today in their last (regular season) home game who were trying to do more than normal instead of doing just enough to get the run in,” McDonald said. “They were trying to hit the four-run homer. That’s understandable, being their last home game, with four seniors in the lineup. They were a little bit keyed up at the plate and swinging at the first pitch instead of waiting on a good pitch.”
Arnold and Conner Brown each had a double for the Flyers. Brownlee hit two singles, and Meyer, Logan Woodside, Redmon, David Current and Nick Cumpston all hit one single apiece.
Redmon started on the mound for Franklin County and pitched a strong three innings before tiring just a bit and giving up two runs to the Eagles in the fourth. Brownlee came on to pitch the final three innings and gave up only a single run in the top of the seventh.
Scott mustered seven hits but did not string a whole lot together.
So now, all parties involved on the Franklin County side are anxious to see if all this potential can turn into a glitzy reality these next couple of weeks.
“Really, we just take it one game at a time, but obviously after the games we can’t wait for the district or can’t wait for the region,” Arnold said. “Because we really want to step up this year. We want to take advantage of having this team together. We need to make a run.”
“I think we’re in good shape going in,” McDonald echoed. “We know what we need to do. We know how to execute. Now it’s just a matter of going and doing it.”