High school softball: Franklin County rallies past Dunbar with 11 runs in seventh inning

mmaloney@herald-leader.comApril 9, 2014 

The softball season is young, but so far things are going just fine for Franklin County.

The Flyers exploded for 11 runs in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday to rally for an 18-10 victory over host Paul Laurence Dunbar.

With the win, Franklin County remains undefeated at 6-0-1.

"Well, it's early still, but we've been hitting the ball well," Coach Tracy Spickard said. "We've been playing well so far. But now we're just getting into the ... meat of our season with district and region play."

Winning pitcher Kara Howard helped herself by lacing four hits, including a home run.

Shelby Sanders keyed the seventh-inning rally with a grand-slam homer and was one of six Flyers with two hits, along with Tori Zeigler, Sydney Wiard, Whitney Edwards, Chandler Kelly and Kiana Butler.

"All of us, we're pretty close. We're really close," Howard said of Franklin County's fast start to the season. "We've been playing for a few years, whether it be summer ball or whatever. We know each other, so that's a lot of it."

"Team chemistry," Sanders said. "We know each other's strengths and weaknesses and we just build each other up when we're down. We just all get along really well. We're like sisters playing."

Franklin County struck three times in the first inning.

Wiard singled in Howard, who led off with a double, with the first run. Two more scored on Edwards' double to the gap in right-center.

Wiard also singled in Howard in the fourth to make it 4-0.

But Dunbar sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-4 lead.

The Bulldogs (3-7-2) got four more in the fifth to make it 10-4. Stephanie Harvey's three-run homer was the highlight of that outburst.

"We kind of lost our focus in that (fourth) inning," Howard said. "I knew that we would have our time. ... I had faith in my girls that they would come through. We have a lot of fight."

Howard's two-run homer in a three-run sixth and Sanders' slam in the seventh provided the firepower for a big Franklin County comeback.

"I was just trying to get on base and score my teammates," Sanders said. "It just happened."

Said Spickard: "We got out of the gate really strong today and I was pleased with our first-inning effort. But then we got complacent for a couple innings. You've got to give Dunbar a lot of credit — they had a lot of fight in them.

"We always talk about 'we've got to prevent the big inning' and we didn't do that today. We allowed them to have a big inning, so we hung our heads for just a short bit. But I'm really proud of the way our kids showed a lot of fight in those last two innings and strung the hits together, and just really battled. Played with a lot of heart and character."

Harvey had four of Dunbar's 17 hits and Emily Bryan had three. Tia Wilson, Brooke Hill, Olivia Judy, Sydney Arnold and Riley Brown got two hits each.

Franklin Co. 18, Paul Dunbar 10

Franklin County 300 103 (11)—18 16 3

Paul Dunbar 000 640 0—10 17 4

Howard and Wiard; Shanks and Ferguson. WP—Howard. LP—Shanks. 2B—Hill, D; Bryan 2, D; Harvey 2, D; Arnold, D; Howard, FC; Edwards, FC; Zeigler, FC. HR—Howard, D; Howard, FC; Sanders, FC.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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