Led by a majority of girls that placed third in last summer's Ponytails World Series, the Franklin County middle school softball team has started off the 2017 on a high note, winning their first five games of the season.
This year's team is coached by Brock Johnson, and assisted by Chena Segree. The team consists of Abby Johnson, Sage Brannan, Brooklyn O'Neal, Ariel Andrews, Gracie Smith, Leslie Escobar, Ava McAnally, Destiny Proctor, Kylah Ross, Jalynn Segree, Jenny Owens, Kelsey Griffin and Audrey Yowell.
On Feb. 13, the girls defeated Hosford 8-2, being led by Brannan who pitched four innings and didn't allow a hit while striking out 10.
Offensively the team was led by Smith (2-3), Johnson (2-3) and Andrews (2-3). Brannan also helped herself out at the plate with a triple and a pair of runs batted in.
The following day on Valentines, the squad would take on the defending district champs from Blountstown and this one would be over really quick, winning by the mercy rule of 16-2 after for four innings.
“The girls were really determined to make a point today, Blountstown beat us all three games we played them last year. It was just a total team win today," said coach Johnson.
Brannan pitched two innings, striking out four. O'Neal led the way at the plate, going 3-3 with three runs and four stolen bases. "Brooklyn doesn't realize just how good she can be yet. She's learning how to slap hit right now, and with her speed she's going to be dangerous in the future," said Johnson.
Also having good days at the plate were Smith (2 RBIs), Johnson (3-3) and Escobar (2-2).
On Feb. 16, the team would take on their cross county rival Port St. Joe and come away victorious 8-6. "We jumped out to an early 8-1 lead and then just kind of lost focus the last three innings. That's on me and we'll correct it for future games," said the coach.
Johnson pitched the entire five-inning game, striking out five while giving up five hits. She also was 3-3 at the plate with a triple, single and an inside-the-park home run. Andrews also contributed offensively with a 2 for 3 day which included two runs batted in. Proctor also had a nice day with a 2 for 2 showing.
On Feb. 23, the girls played the Tolar Bulldogs from Bristol and once again came away with a convincing victory 13-2.
Brannan led the way on the mound, throwing four innings in the mercy rule shortened game, striking out nine while walking five. The Seahawks were led at the plate by O'Neal, 2 for 2; Johnson, 2 for 3 and a pair of RBIs; Smith, 2 for 2; and Proctor, who went 1 for 2, with a home run..
The following day the young Hawks played a JV game at Bozeman, and left with another win by the score of 9-2. “This was a big confidence booster for us," said coach Johnson. "Bozeman had a pretty good pitcher that was shutting us down for four innings but we started swinging the bats like we knew how and it busted the game open,"
Johnson was the winning pitcher throwing five innings while striking out six. She helped out her cause by going 3 for 4 at the plate.
Andrews had the double in the top of the fourth that opened the game up, driving the ball to the left centerfield fence. Smith and Proctor each went 2 for 3, while McAnally went 2 for 4 with two RBIs; and Andrews, 2 for 3, to contribute at the plate.