Owensboro — Franklin County center fielder Dana Jarboe is, by her own description, a 4-foot-11 slap hitter.
The diminutive Jarboe picked the perfect time to find a sudden power stroke, however, as her two-run homer in the third inning sparked the Lady Flyers to a 4-2 win over Marshall County in the consolation bracket of the State Softball Tournament on Friday at Jack Fisher Park.
The Lady Flyers (24-14) lived to see another day. They will face Conner on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. EDT. Franklin County opened the day with a 4-0 win over Estill County but were in the doldrums after an erratic performance in an 8-2 loss to Allen County-Scottsville in the team's second game of the day.
But Jarboe's shot to straightaway center brought the Lady Flyers back to life, giving them a 2-0 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
"That's the first time I've ever hit the ball out of the park," Jarboe said. "What a time to finally do it. It's just crazy for a 4-foot-11 leadoff hitter who usually slaps the ball to take it over the fence."
"We were a little flat, a little sluggish, and Dana stepped up and gave us a lift," Franklin County Coach Tracy Spickard said. "I really think that loosened us up."
Franklin County also got a gutsy performance from sophomore pitcher Emily Hampton, who pitched all three games but seemed to get stronger as the day went on.
"I thought her last game was the best game she pitched," Spickard said. "She did a superb job."
Hampton said she wanted to "bring some energy."
"For being really tired, I did feel like I was throwing harder by the last game," she said.
Marshall County Coach Jennifer Burnham said she enjoyed watching Hampton.
"She threw a good game, kept it low, had stuff that broke with lots of movement on her ball," she said.
The Lady Flyers took advantage of bad fielding by Estill County to pick up a 4-0 win in its opening game. Estill committed three errors in the second inning, which helped Franklin put two early runs on the board.
"We came out and hit the ball hard early, and they made some mistakes that we were able to capitalize on," Spickard said.
Franklin County rode that momentum and scored two runs in the first inning against Allen County. That lead held until the third inning, when a costly error led to Allen County eventually taking a 3-2 lead on an RBI double by Emily Meador. Franklin County went on to commit three more errors in the final three innings as Allen County pulled away.
"The wheels came off," Spickard said. "We made a few defensive mistakes and allowed it to snowball. That wasn't our team out there at all."
Marshall County scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh and had the winning run at the plate before Hampton closed the door.
"We seem to enjoy making things interesting," Spickard said.
"I think we just like to try and give Coach a heart attack," Hampton said.
The Lady Flyers were sent home after the first Saturday game during their last state tourney appearance in 2003. This time, they want to take things farther.
"When you get in the losers' bracket, it's just survival of the fittest," Spickard said. "It's good to get to day two, now you just have to take it one game at a time."