The softball season is just getting started, and Franklin County has already been hit with injuries.
That didn’t slow the Lady Flyers Tuesday as they won their season opener 11-1 over Owen County at Sally Gaines Field.
The game was called after the fifth inning on the mercy rule.
FCHS scored in every inning and plated two runs in the fifth to put the game away.
“Overall I was very pleased with the effort today,” FCHS coach Tracy Spickard said. “Early on we were dropping our hands a little bit and getting under the ball, but we made adjustments. We turned it around and hit the ball hard.”
The Lady Flyers have been making adjustments since the preseason. Senior Whitney Edwards broke a wrist during the offseason and spent several weeks in a cast.
“She’s battled back from that,” Spickard said.
Edwards started Tuesday, but two other Franklin County players — Ashley Hack and Kaycee Purvis — are out with torn meniscus.
“We’ve been dealing with injuries through the winter and into the spring,” Spickard said.
Like everyone else, the Lady Flyers have also been dealing with inclement weather.
“It’s been the same for everybody, but the number of complete practices we’ve had on the field has been very limited,” Spickard said.
The weather has been so uncooperative that FCHS had to cancel both of its scrimmages last week, and that’s the first time that’s happened in Spickard’s career at Franklin County.
The good news for the Lady Flyers is they have plenty of experience returning off last year’s 24-13 team that won the 41st District tournament.
FCHS graduated one senior — Macy Johnson — off last year’s team. She’s now playing softball for Midway College.
“We have some veteran players with a lot of varsity games under their belts,” Spickard said.
While Franklin County has several players back, its lineup hasn’t been set in stone just yet.
“We’re going to do some experimenting. You saw us move people around to different positions late in the game. We’ll do that until we get the right mix, the right chemistry.”
One veteran making a switch is sophomore Sydney Wiard, who replaces Johnson at catcher. Wiard has been playing for FCHS since she was in the fifth grade.
“She’s a utility player, and she’s played several positions for us,” Spickard said of Wiard. “We didn’t want to pull her off the infield but we needed to, and she made the move to behind the plate.
“She’s competitive, a great student-athlete. She puts the team first, and she’s embraced the role.”
The Lady Flyers took control of Tuesday’s game early, scoring five runs in the first two innings.
In the first Tori Zeigler singled, Wiard drew a walk and Shelby Sanders followed with a home run to score three runs.
Kara Howard homered in the second inning, scoring two runs, after Lindsey Axon walked.
Sanders hit a double and Edwards and Chandler Kelley each had a base hit in the third inning as FCHS scored two more runs for a 7-0 lead.
Two more runs came across in the fourth inning as Kiana Butler drew a walk and scored on a double by Howard, who took third on a wild pitch.
Howard scored when Zeigler grounded out to the pitcher.
Owen County (0-1) scored its run in the top of the fifth inning when Reagan Sutton hit a one-out double and came home on a base hit by Allison Dempsey.
That made the score 9-1, but FCHS closed out the game with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Alyssa Gaines drew a lead-off walk and advanced to third on groundouts by Kelley and Axon. Butler followed with a double, driving in Gaines, and Butler scored on a single by Howard.
Howard and Sanders each hit a home run, single and double for FCHS. Butler hit a double, Edwards singled twice, and Zeigler and Kelley each had a base hit.
Howard pitched a complete game for the victory.
“Kara’s an excellent pitcher for us, and she’s done a marvelous job through the years,” Spickard said. “I think she’s grown a lot over the winter as a pitcher, mentally and physically.”
Howard, Sanders, Gaines, Edwards, Zeigler and Renate Sundvold, an exchange student, are this year’s seniors.
Franklin County plays again Thursday, hosting West Jessamine at 6 p.m.