The Lady Seahawks softball team is riding high, going three for four in last week’s Southern Warrior Classic in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and then returning home to score a 3-2 win Tuesday night at Wewahitchka, their top rival for regional dominance.
The win against the defending state champion Lady Gators, ranked fourth in Florida Class 1A softball, one spot ahead of Franklin County, sets the stage for a spirited run to the state playoffs.
“It's a big win as far as district seeding goes and it gives us a chance at the No. 1 seed, but we still have a lot of work to do and we have to keep improving,” said Coach Scott Collins.
Freshman Sage Brannan pitched all seven innings, giving up two runs, one of them earned, on five hits, including a double. She struck out one and walked two.
“"Sage only gave up one earned run and she's getting better with each outing,” said Collins. “The Wewa pitcher (freshman Halen Guffey) did a good job of settling in and keeping us off balance as the game went on.”
The Lady Seahawks spotted Wewa a run in the bottom of the first, and then scored two in the top of the second to recapture the lead. Each team managed a run in the third, and it remained scoreless the rest of the way.
“Our defense continues to play well and we hit the ball well early in the game,” said Collins, whose squad finished with six hits, including two doubles, and one error.
Junior Jaylin Charles was the team leader at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a double, driving in a run and scoring one. Freshman Brooklyn O’Neal was 1 for 3, with an RBI, while senior Melanie Collins was 1 for 2, with a double, and scored a run. Freshman Ariel Andrews went 1 for 3, freshman Gracie Smith was 1 for 3, with one run scored, and sophomore Abby Johnson has one RBI.
The team was on the road in Tennessee throughout spring break, opening Thursday against the Piedra Vista Panthers, from Farmington, New Mexico, and behind strong pitching from Charles, got a 3-0 win.
In seven innings of shutout ball, Charles gave up just three hits, walked three and struck out six.
The Lady Seahawks plated the only runs they’d need, with two in the bottom of the second, and then added an insurance run in the fourth.
They managed five hits, three from senior Collins and one each from senior Alexus Johnson and Andrews, with each of the three players driving in a run.
In the afternoon game Friday, Franklin County spotted Huntland, Tennessee three runs, and then proceeded to scatter 11 runs across the next five innings, and win 11-3.
Brannan gave up just four hits, struck out five and didn’t walk any of the 20 batters she faced over fine innings. Charles got the save, striking out three, and giving up a hit, in her one inning on the mound.
The hottest bats belonged to senior Sophia Kirvin, 1 for 4 with three runs batted in; Collins, 2 for 2 with a triple, a pair of RBI, and a pair of runs scored; Alexus Johnson, 1 for 2 with an RBI, plus two runs scored; and Smith, 2 for 3 with a triple, a pair of RBI, and one scored.
Abby Johnson, Brannan and Charles each had a hit and scored a run, while eighth grader Kylah Ross had a hit and scored two runs, and freshman O’Neal scored a run.
In the Friday evening game, the Lady Seahawks were shelled 8-1 by Chattanooga (Tennessee) Christian, managing only four hits.
But one of those hits was Charles’ first homer, who had the lone RBI. Smith had a pair of hits and Alexus Johnson one.
In the Saturday morning game, the Lady Seahawks got back on track with a 9-1 defeat of Steeleville Illinois.
Brannan gave up one run on four hits, striking out three and walking two.
Abby Johnson and Kirvin each drive in a pair of runs, while Charles and Alexus Johnson each scored a pair of runs, Andrews and Alexus Johnson each had a pair of hits.
“The girls played well against good competition, and the tournament was a great team experience for all of us,” said Scott Collins.