With a young team and a hard schedule, Franklin County might experience some bumps in the early part of the season.
That was certainly the case in the season opener, as FCHS struggled at the plate and gave up two big innings in a 10-2 loss to Henry Clay Saturday at FCHS.
“Obviously we wanted to make a better showing than a 10-2 defeat,” FCHS coach Kevin Goins said.
“We’ve got three guys returning that have quite a bit of varsity experience. The rest of them it’s going to take a little bit of adjustment, a little time to get used to the speed of the game.
“We’ll see if they’ll be able to make the adjustment or we’ll have to look elsewhere. It’s kind of in their hands — are they going to step up and help this program or are we going to go on a downward slide like we started last year?”
Compounding the inexperience issue is a difficult early-season schedule in which the Flyers (0-1) face the likes of Lexington Catholic, Louisville Eastern, top-ranked Paul Laurence Dunbar and Louisville Ballard in the first week of the season.
“When you make a tough schedule and you lose some depth, some of those young guys are going to have to step up and help,” Goins said. “We want to compete with our region foes, compete with the Louisville guys, and when the dust settles in May we’ll see if we look a whole lot different.”
On Saturday, the Flyers looked like a team that has a long way to go. They only had three hits and went scoreless over the final four innings. They also committed four errors along with a few baserunning miscues.
Senior Quenton Brownlee started and recorded the loss for FCHS, going two innings and allowing four runs on four hits.
Brownlee — who, along with senior Alex McKinney, is considered the leader by Goins — had one of three hits for the Flyers. He hit a solo homer to deep center in the third. Junior Alden Gatewood and senior Michael Hurt had the other two hits.
“We had some opportunities early where if we cash in three or four runs the pressure is on them,” said Goins, whose team led 1-0 after the first, “but it just didn’t work out that way today.”
The Blue Devils (1-0) took the lead for good with four runs on four hits in the second then blew the game wide open with five runs in the fifth. Senior designated hitter Jack Branchini hit a two-run single and junior pinch-hitter Brandon Lord hit a two-out, three-run homer to left-center two batters later that made it 10-2.
“Very rarely did you look out at the scoreboard and see zero runs or one run,” Goins said. “We give up three, four, five and offensively we’re just not there yet to be able to battle back from that.
“I’m pleased with our pitching. We just seemed to make that one mistake.”
Senior lefty Nick Norman started and got the win on the mound for HCHS after giving up two runs on two two hits in three innings. Branchini had three hits and four RBIs, while junior Trevor Hammonds hit a double and a single and scored three times.
FCHS goes to Lexington Catholic Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.