Franklin County coach Tracy Spickard talks daily to her team about being ready to go from the opening pitch.
On Thursday night, the players weren’t listening very well.
After a sluggish start, FCHS finally got the bats going and scored five runs in the sixth to beat Western Hills 5-1 in 41st District play at WHHS.
“We harp on it all the time. They’ve got to get out of the gate strong and hard and fast — and we talk about that every single day,” Spickard said.
“We didn’t prepare, we didn’t warm up mentally focused. That showed and it definitely carried over into the early innings.”
But the Lady Flyers (14-1-1, 3-1), ranked No. 19 in the Kentucky Softball Coaches Association high school poll, overcame that slow opening to win their eighth straight.
“They’ve got to play every pitch 110 percent ... and we didn’t have that today,” Spickard said. “We just got lucky that we finally put it together in the sixth inning.”
Up 1-0 for much of the game, the Lady Wolverines (2-11, 1-2) could never expand on that lead despite have chances. They lost for the fifth time in their last six games.
“Up to this point it’s been a rough start for us. We’ve had to go through a lot of adversity as a team — they’ve had to come together and tonight they came together,” WHHS coach Jeff Pritchett said. “They came and played well. I was real proud of the way they played. We didn’t beat ourselves. They made plays, they got some key hits and ultimately they had a big inning and that ended up being the game.”
Trailing 1-0 entering the sixth, the Lady Flyers finally got going.
Senior Tori Zeigler and sophomore Sydney Wiard started with back-to-back singles and seniors Whitney Edwards and Alyssa Gaines brought them home with a fielder’s choice and a single, respectively. Freshman Chandler Kelly then ripped a two-run double to the wall in left-center field and later capped the inning by scoring on a passed ball.
“Finally, in the sixth inning we mastered some focus and made some adjustments and started stringing some hits together and made some things happen,” said Spickard, whose team had five of its eight hits during the inning.
Senior Kara Howard went all seven innings for FCHS, giving up six hits with six strikeouts and two walks. She didn’t allow a run after junior Torey Hawkins’ groundout in the first scored junior Destiny Hyatt, who led off and reached on an error.
“She bared down when she needed to,” Spickard said of Howard, who threw a no-hitter against Frankfort Tuesday night. “She had some key strikeouts in some key situations.”
Sophomore Taylor Slade only allowed two hits for the Lady Wolverines before giving up the big inning. She struck out one and and walked one in seven innings.
“Taylor pitched a great game,” Pritchett said.
Wiard had two singles for the Lady Flyers. Hyatt and Slade each singled twice to lead the Lady Wolverines.
“Anytime you lose a district game it’s a bummer,” Pritchett said. “This is a rivalry — we get excited, they get excited and the excitement showed in both teams. Unfortunately for us, we came out on the wrong end of the stick.”
FCHS faces Conner today at 6 p.m. to open the Lafayette 5-Star General Invitational, while WHHS is at Owen County today at 5:30 p.m.
To see more photos from the game, click here.