VERSAILLES – Frankfort High softball coach Angie Hutcherson was filled with pride following Tuesday’s 41st District Tournament loss to host Woodford County, though the final 15-1 score does not reflect the obvious improvement made by Hutcherson’s Lady Panthers this spring.
The FHS improvements were across the board down the stretch this season. The Lady Panthers made contact at the plate with much greater regularity and looked much more sure of themselves defensively behind a pair of very young pitchers in Kayla Hortenbury and Renaie Dunn.
“We won seven games, and I don’t think that’s bad for as young as we are,” Hutcherson said. “I think we ended up 7-13, 7-14, and we were in a position to win four or five more. We lost a lot of one- and two-run games. That’s awesome with as many first-year players as we have.”
It wasn’t near enough against a more experienced bunch of Lady Jackets from Woodford County, however, though Frankfort made Woodford earn it more than the score indicates.
The Lady Panthers loaded the bases in the top of the first inning against junior pitcher Rachel McCoy, thanks to a one-out single by Maya Burke, a Woodford County error that allowed Shelby Aldridge to reach, and a walk to Aubrey Penn.
Hortenbury hit into a fielder’s choice, allowing a run to score, giving Frankfort the 1-0 lead.
The Lady Yellowjackets scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning off of Hortenbury, with Shelby Abel’s one-out, two-run single being the biggest blow.
Woodford County (21-14)broke it open in the second inning, scoring six runs on seven hits.
“That one inning, they hit,” Hutcherson said of the Lady Yellowjackets. “That’s what Woodford does – they hit.”
The Lady Yellowjackets move on to face Franklin County at 6 Thursday night for the district championship, with both teams advancing to the regional tournament next week.
Frankfort mustered four hits Tuesday. Dunn had two singles to lead the way, and Burke and Aldridge had one single each.
But the Lady Panthers put the ball in play enough to keep the defense honest. Woodford simply proved to be steady defensively.
“We didn’t give it to them,” Hutcherson said. “We hit the ball all the way through. We only had maybe one strikeout. We’ve been working hard on contact. We popped up quite a few, but, hey, we made contact. And that’s all we can ask.
“The kids are playing with confidence,” she added. “They believed in themselves. When it was 3-1, they’re like, ‘Hey, I think maybe we can win this game.’”
Woodford County cranked out 14 hits. Catie Fletcher, Andrea Graham, Cheyenne Jamison, Mandy Head and Abel led with two hits apiece. Brooke Corum, Leah Shelton, Amanda Rice and Darrian Jamison added one hit apiece.
Hutcherson said next year should be better for Frankfort softball.
“I have most everybody back,” she said. “Both of our pitchers are very young. We had a lot of young talent on the junior varsity that will be playing next year.”