Franklin softball edges Columbus East in sectional opener

Nicholas Shaw | For the Daily Journal


With a runner on and a two-run lead in the seventh inning Monday, Franklin coach Ken Sears knew he didn’t want to pitch to Baleigh Fish.

The Columbus East freshman was 2 for 2 with a pair of doubles and represented the tying run. So Sears intentionally walked Fish, putting runners at first and second with two out.

The move paid off for the Grizzly Cubs, as hurler Annabelle Richter induced a pop-up to allow Franklin to hold on for a 5-3 win in the opening round of the Class 4A Columbus East Sectional.

“We got lucky,” Sears said. “We discussed it for a minute because (Fish) had gotten a hit every time. She’s good. I didn’t want to let her tie it up. I was going to make somebody else beat us.”

The win puts Franklin (13-13) in Tuesday’s first sectional semifinal against rival Whiteland, which received a first-round bye.

The Grizzly Cubs jumped on the board with a run in the first. Addison Martin reached on an one-out error, stole second and scored on a two-out double by Richter.

The Olympians (11-16) took their only lead with two runs in the third. After Savanna Sullivan walked with one out and Fish doubled her to third, Addy Ross laid down a bunt that Richter fielded. Richter looked Sullivan back to third, but then when she threw to first to get Ross, Sullivan came home. An errant throw to the plate then allowed Fish to score, giving East a 2-1 lead.

Franklin came right back to regain the lead for good in the bottom of the third when Martin drew a one-out walk and Aubrey Luegers clubbed a two-run homer to left center.

Addie Maschino led off the fourth with another home run to push the Grizzly Cubs’ lead to 4-2.

It looked like East had tied the game in the fifth after Lola Watkins led off with a double and Sullivan hit a ball over the top of the foul pole in left field. But the ball was ruled foul. Sullivan eventually singled, and Watkins was thrown out at third before Fish smacked a double to cut the lead to 4-3.

Franklin got the run back in the bottom of the fifth on a leadoff double by Martin and a one-out double by Richter.

“I thought we competed really well,” Olympians coach Rusty Brummett said. “We battled, and Hermione (Robinson) was pitching pretty well for us. I don’t like to blame umpires, but that umpire had an inconsistent strike zone, which hurt both teams. I thought the home run that he disallowed had a huge impact. That ties the ball game up, and we’re still hitting with nobody out. So that’s huge. But umpires don’t win and lose ball games. You have to execute. They executed a couple plays, but I thought we executed pretty well, too.”

Richter threw a six-hitter and went 2 for 3 with two doubles at the plate. Martin also went 2 for 3 for the Grizzly Cubs, who had swept the Olympians in a doubleheader last month.

“I knew it would be a little tougher because they’re a little healthier,” Sears said. “They had a couple girls missing when we played, and the Fish girl has been hitting the ball real well, so we knew it would be a battle. We did just enough to get to play again (Tuesday).”

“We beat them before, and sometimes it’s hard to beat a team three times,” Richter added. “So we wanted to drive runs in.”

Franklin split a pair of games with Whiteland during the regular season.

“They have a really good freshman pitcher that three-hit us the first time,” Sears said of Whiteland hurler Jordyn Crouch. “So we have to figure that out if we want to have a chance to go on.”