Prep softball: Franklin County eliminated

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MEADVILLE — The Franklin County Lady Bulldogs had been playing some outstanding softball for the last month of the regular season, which culminated with them winning the Region 7-3A championship.

But once the first round of the MHSAA Class 3A South State Playoffs took place Tuesday afternoon, things went south in its best-of-three series at home against Region 5-3A runner-up Southeast Lauderdale.

The Lady Tigers from Meridian showed no signs of rust after a long road trip, winning 14-7 in Game 1 and 12-2 in five innings in Game 2.

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Franklin County committed 11 errors in the first game and that contributed to 10 of Southeast Lauderdale’s 14 runs being unearned. The Lady Tigers won the game despite being out-hit 13 to 11.

“Most of the errors were committed by youthful players. They were scared to death. They looked like deer in the headlights,” Lady Bulldogs head coach Dana Smith said. “You can’t get to this level and be scared.”

Franklin County took a 2-1 lead after one inning of play in the first game, but Southeast Lauderdale scored two runs in the top of the second inning to take the lead for good at 3-2. The Lady Tigers added three more runs — all unearned — just an inning later and one run in the top of the fifth for a 7-2 lead.

The Lady Bulldogs scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 7-6 ball game, but the defense once again let them down as they surrendered six runs, five of them unearned, in the top of the sixth to trail 13-7. Southeast Lauderdale scored its final run of Game 1 in the top of the seventh.

In the second game, Franklin County was the visiting team, and it got off to a good start by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. But the Lady Tigers’ Denishia Knight, who went 3-for-4 in Game 1, continued her dominance by hitting a leadoff home run which started a nine-run rally in the bottom of the first.

The Lady Bulldogs did not have a response for that rally and saw the Lady Tigers score three more runs over the next couple of innings. Southeast Lauderdale did not have to bat in the bottom of the fifth and won by way of the 10-run mercy rule after five innings.

Just like in Game 1, Franklin County’s defense let the Lady Bulldogs down as they committed 10 errors.

“The team that wanted in more won it tonight,” Smith said. “We came out not ready to play (in Game 2) and they wanted it. We panicked. Our older girls did the best they could. Our seniors fought hard all the way through.”

Franklin County finished its season with a 17-7 record.