Panthers crush Falcons in first home game
It was worth the wait.
After playing six road games over the course of the first month of the season, Franklin’s softball team played its first home game Tuesday evening. The Panthers made the most of being at the friendly confines of Macon Middle School, beating West Henderson 12-2 in five innings.
FHS cranked out 18 hits. It was one hit shy of the season high set a week earlier in a five-inning game at East Henderson.
“We hit the ball probably the best throughout the lineup than we had so far this season,” coach Adam Tallent said. “We’re playing a weekly schedule, finally, and it’s helping the girls get back on track.”
If playing the first home game on April 5 seems unusual, that’s because it is. A combination of cancellations, alterations and postponements to the schedule led the Panthers on a road trip to six different counties: Buncombe, Graham, Transylvania, Haywood, Henderson and Jackson.
Making the wait just a little longer Tuesday evening was a junior varsity game that took more than two hours to complete (which Franklin won 9-7).
Once the game started, the Panthers (5-2, 4-1 WNC Athletic Conference) made quick work of the Falcons. They scored four runs in the first, two in the second and four in the third to take a 10-0 lead.
The Falcons (3-6, 1-5 WNCAC) scored both runs on a two-out hit in the fourth. The Panthers loaded the bases in the fifth and reached the 10-run mercy rule threshold via a walk.
Eight players recorded hits, seven of whom had at least two.
• Haeli Bryson went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and scored four runs.
• Brittany Burrell went 3-for-3 with a walk and drove in a run.
• Ashlynn Buchanan went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI’s.
• Caitlyn Goembel went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI’s.
• Faith Bourque went 2-for-2 with an RBI.
• Paige Norton went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
• Haley Hamilton went 2-for-3 and scored twice.
• Nichole Rogers hit a single in her only at bat.
Bryson allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits. She struck out eight and walked three.
“Just a good game for us,” Tallent said.
All five of West Henderson’s conference losses have been by at least 10 runs. Surprisingly, their only win was over conference co-leader Tuscola, and it too was a blowout (15-3).
The latest victory gives the Panthers a winning percentage of 84.0 at home since 2010.
FHS heads into Friday’s game against North Henderson a half game behind Pisgah and Tuscola atop the conference standings. A win over the Knights (6-5, 2-3 WNCAC) would create a three-way tie heading into next week’s showdown at Tuscola.
First pitch for Friday’s home contest is slated for 4:30 p.m. since North Henderson doesn’t have a JV team.
“They have a good coach who is very disciplined,” Tallent said, “which makes her team play very sound softball, so it will be another big game for us.
“We’re going to try and carry our momentum we have right now offensively to Friday and work really hard (Wednesday and Thursday) on our defense.”