Woodford County pitcher Bethany Todd had struck out 11 Franklin County batters and held FCHS to four hits.
But the person with half of the Lady Flyers’ hits was at the plate, in the bottom of the seventh inning of a scoreless game, with two runners on base.
Shelby Brown came through again, sending a single to right field and Whitney Edwards home with the game-winning run Wednesday as FCHS defeated Woodford 1-0 in the championship game of the 41st District softball tournament at Bob Fannin Field.
“I’ve never wanted something so bad,” Brown said. “I didn’t really feel pressure. It was more I wanted it for my team.”
Franklin County and Woodford County advance to the 11th Region Tournament to be played next week at Bryan Station. The tournament draw is today at 4:30 p.m.
Brown, a sophomore, went 3-for-3 Wednesday with two singles and a double, one more hit than the rest of her team had.
“The first one was a rise ball,” Brown said of the pitches she hit. “The second one was right up the middle, and the third one was a little outside.
“It felt really good to make everyone happy and proud.”
To see photos from the game, click here.
Wednesday’s game was the fourth time this season the two teams had met, and all four games were decided by one run with the Lady Flyers holding a 3-1 edge.
“This is the fourth time we’ve played them this year, and we know everything about each other,” FCHS coach Tracy Spickard said. “It’s always going to be a battle between two very competitive teams with great kids who have a lot of heart and will fight to the end.
“That’s what our kids did. We told them in the seventh inning we’d do whatever it takes to get one run across.”
FCHS opened the bottom of the seventh inning with Edwards bunting for a single. Chandler Kelly reached on a fielder’s choice, but Woodford didn’t get the out at second, leaving runners at first and second with no outs.
That changed quickly when a popup on a bunt attempt was caught by Woodford catcher Mandy Head, who doubled Jamie Jordan off first base. Jordan was running for Kelly.
Now with two outs and Edwards and Kelly on base, Brown came to the plate.
“I can’t say enough good things about Shelby Brown,” Spickard said. “This is her first year of varsity ball. She came in and with two strikes on her put the ball through for a hit. I’m proud of her and the opportunity we took advantage of.”
The Lady Yellow Jackets threatened early, leading off the third and fourth innings with singles and using sacrifice bunts to put the runners in scoring position both innings.
In the fifth inning Woodford had two runners on with one out, but a fly ball to right field was the second out, and the Lady Flyers threw out Kaitlyn Coleman at second to end the inning.
“Defensively, aside from one play, we played pretty solid,” Spickard said. “We worked ourselves out of a some tough situations where they had runners in scoring position.
“I was pleased with our defense, but offensively, for six innings, we were just chasing horrible pitches. Part of it was they were pressing. They want to get a hit so bad they were chasing pitches out of the zone, and we didn’t see the ball really well tonight.”
FCHS’ Kara Howard, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, was the winning pitcher. She allowed just six hits in the shutout victory.
“We beat them in a game like this last year in the district championship,” Howard said of the Yellow Jackets, “and we knew coming in we’d have a target on our backs. We just had to stick to our game plan and execute our game plan.
“I have faith in our defense, and if we didn’t get the bats going I knew our defense would hold them. Shelby Brown did a great job getting a hit when we needed one, and Whitney executed our game plan with that bunt.
“It was an all-around team effort. I’m proud of them, and I wouldn’t want any other players behind me.”
Besides Brown’s three hits, Edwards and Sydney Wiard both singled for FCHS.
Todd went the distance in the circle for Woodford County. Getting hits for the Lady Yellow Jackets were Coleman and Caitlin Ferguson each with two singles, and Kyla Simpson, Cheyenne Jamison and Brooke Corum each with a base hit.
Named to the all-tournament team along with Howard were Wiard, Brown and Edwards of FCHS; Todd, Jamison and Corum of Woodford County; Taylor Slade and Torey Hawkins of Western Hills; and Taylor Addams and Rachel Palmgren of Frankfort High.