LEXINGTON — Franklin County’s softball team is one step closer to its ultimate goal — the state tournament.
The Lady Flyers (29-8) defeated Lafayette 7-1 Tuesday in the semifinals of the 11th Region Tournament at Bryan Station High School.
That puts FCHS in today’s championship game at 6 p.m. against Scott County (27-8). The Lady Cardinals defeated Dunbar 15-4 in five innings in Tuesday’s second semifinal.
“We just wanted this game really bad,” FCHS second baseman Whitney Edwards said about the semifinal victory. “We were going to do whatever we had to do to get runs across.”
Edwards did her part, driving in three runs with a home run in the third inning and a double in seventh.
Franklin County threatened in every inning and scored in four innings.
“In the first inning we had runners on base in scoring position, and I was a little disappointed we didn’t get a run across,” FCHS coach Tracy Spickard said, “but we battled back in the second inning and put pressure on them when we put two runs on the board.”
FCHS’ Chandler Kelly led off the second inning with a single, Alyssa Gaines drew a walk and Shelby Brown laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners.
Kelly and Gaines scored when Kara Howard reached on an error.
The Lady Flyers took a 4-0 lead in the third inning with a single by Sydney Wiard and Edwards’ two-run home run.
“It was inside and kind of low,” Edwards said about the home run pitch. “I knew as soon as I hit it that it was gone. I make sure I’m relaxed and comfortable up there (at the plate), and I go with the pitch.”
Franklin County added a run in the fifth inning with an error and a single by Shelby Brown, and the Lady Flyers scored their last two runs in the top of the seventh inning with a walk, a double by Edwards and a single by Kelly.
“We talk about that every day,” Spickard said of keeping pressure on the opponent. “We talk about that warrior mentality, that no amount of runs is enough. You have to keep picking, working to push more runs across.”
The Lady Generals (21-14) avoided a shutout with two errors and an RBI single by Katelyn Mitchell in the bottom of the seventh.
“We’re seeing the ball much better this week as a whole,” Spickard said. “We’re more focused at the plate and more patient, looking for the right pitch we can drive hard to the grass.”
The Lady Flyers had eight hits — a home run and double by Edwards, two singles apiece from Kelly and Brown, and base hits from Howard and Wiard.
Kecia Stephens pitched for Lafayette. The Lady Generals had 10 hits, all singles. Mitchell, Caroline Perkins and Madison Burke all had two singles, and Stephens, Kara Winchester, Kara Bethel and Sarah Wiggins each had a base hit.
“I was really proud of our defense,” Spickard said. “I think we had one error, and that was Kiana (Butler) on a hustle play, diving in the outfield.
“Shelby Sanders was strong at shortstop, and Kara did a good job on the mound. Alyssa Gaines had a nice stop at third. It was the kind of defensive effort we’ve got to have.”
Now comes the championship game against Scott County. In the final poll of the season, Scott County was ranked sixth in the state and Franklin County was ranked 17th. The Lady Cardinals defeated FCHS 12-2 in the regular season.
“This is what you work for all year,” Spickard said, “from the fall with open fields, to hitting the weight room in the winter and then coming out on Feb. 15.
“This is what you work for, to put yourself in a situation where you have the opportunity to make it to the big show, so to speak.”
To see more photos from this game, click here.