The Franklin County Belles, an All-Star group of the finest 13 to 15 year old softball players in the county, are now the finest team in the state.
The Belles went undefeated as they best the top teams in Florida last weekend in Okeechobee to earn a berth in the World Series the first week of August in Louisiana.
“Our girls went through the toughest part of the bracket, and went undefeated through the entire state championship,” said coach Joseph Ferrell. “I’m very proud of the girls. Our 12 girls represented Franklin County extremely well. They had great attitudes; we couldn’t ask more from our kids.
The girls opened Friday against West Pasco, and played what Ferrell said was probably the team’s toughest game outside of Monday’s championship.
”We came out first and posted seven runs in the first three innings,” he said. “But then we let them come back in the third and they scored seven runs on us.”
The Belles rallied, scored three more runs, and then shut their opponents over the last four innings, to notch an 11-7 victory in seven innings.
Pitcher Jaylyn Charles hurls the first three innings, and Megan Collins went the rest of the way, to combine for the win.
The Belles’ second game was on Saturday against Belleview, and the Franklin County girls coasted to a 13-1 win “Our bats came out hot and we ended up beating them in five innings,” said Ferrell. “Our bats were there that day. We had great bats the entire tournament.”
Charles and Alexus Johnson shut down their opponents. “It was great pitching from both girls,” said the coach.
A second game slated for Saturday had to be postponed due to rain and lightning delays, and it was played Sunday morning against Lake Placid.
Again, the Belles hammered their adversaries, defeating them 16-2 in five innings. Collins pitched four innings and Charles one.
On Monday was the championship game against Lake Placid, which would have had to beat Franklin County twice to advance.
The score was knotted 1-1 after the first inning, and in the second inning, Lake Placid went up 2-1.
“We told the girls it was a matter of how bad they wanted the championship and they had better turn it on,” said Ferrell.
The Belles did just that, coming out in the bottom of the third inning to score five runs to go up 6-2.
Lake Placed added a run in the fourth inning, but that would be all, as it was three up, three down for them in the next three innings. The Belles capped off the game with another run in the sixth, to win the state title 7-3. Collins pitched a complete seven-inning game in the title game.
At each game the tourney handed out an MVP award for sportsmanship and good play. In the opener against West Pasco it was Melanie Collins; in the second game against Belleview it was Kimmie Boone; in the third game against Lake Placid it was Madison smith; and in the championship is was Jaylyn Charles.
“Madison smith had a great series hitting the ball, and so did Melanie Collins,” said Ferrell.
The Belles plan to leave July 31 to go to Ponchatoula, La. to represent Florida in the World Series, and will be playing Aug. 1 to 6.
“I want to thank everybody that supported us to this point, and for their continued support of us through these girls,” said Ferrell. “These girls deserve every bit of it.”
The Worlds on our shoulders
Team Florida needs your support to go to the World Series in Louisiana from August 1 to 6. Your contribution will provide them with support needed for food, lodging and travel expenses.
We want to provide a memorable experience for each child involved and the opportunity to represent Franklin County on a national level at the Worlds. Your support in this endeavor is greatly appreciated. Team Florida and its families thank you in advance for your contributions and continued support of our county’s Dixie Youth.
Sponsors so far include the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners, cities of Apalachicola and Carrabelle, Carrabelle Christian Center, Centennial Bank, Weems Memorial Hospital, Dodd Title Company, Inc., Thomas M. Shuler, PA, J. Gordon Shuler, PA, Blue Parrot, Green Point Construction, Galloway Construction, High Calling Church, Franklin County Tax Collector James A. Harris, Jr., Franklin County Supervisor of Elections Ida Elliott, Franklin County Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson, Fisherman's Choice and Q's Corner Cocktail Lounge.