Southsider Voice correspondent
Each year has been different for 35 years at Franklin Central High School for veteran softball coach Kathy Stricker.
Setting the standards for her players, she believes that the more the girls play, the more they learn. Stricker has guided the Flashes to two state finals, six regional titles and 10 sectional championships.
“You have to get out and you have to play,” she contends. “Number one, it takes commitment. Most of our kids play travel ball in the summer. They play with some really good teams. They get a lot of games, and that helps them.”
Once under her guidance, each player learns to commit to the team, plays summer travel softball, practices hitting outdoors at the school when school starts and then works out from November to early March.
Forty-four girls are playing softball at Franklin Central: The varsity squad features three seniors, three juniors and seven sophomores. Although they would appear to be young, they are seasoned due to summer softball and because four sophomores started as freshmen on last year’s varsity.
“We have a lot of tools,” Stricker. “We have good hitters and some speed, some kids who can slap the ball, some who can bunt. We need to get more games under our belt, and it can all come together.”
After several games had been postponed due to inclement weather, the Flashes finally opened their season Saturday at Martinsville with an 11-hit attack and solid pitching from sophomore starter Shelby Herron and relief pitchers Bailey Bruce and Dani Wyse.
The Flashes lived up to Stricker’s demand to be aggressive at the plate by opening with five hits and four runs in the first inning and cruising to an 8-2 win.
Wyse, a sophomore, drove in senior catcher Tori Luster for the second run and later hit a three-run homer in the fifth. Junior second baseman Jess Santangelo drove in two runs with a double in the first.
Franklin Central’s starting lineup included senior Rachel Johnson at third, sophomores Elena Horen, Delaney Thompson and Reagan Sparks in the outfield and Brooklyn Hutcheson at shortstop. The roster also features senior Megan Stephenson, junior Logan Woodruff and sophomores Taylor Wilson and Devin Raters.
The Flashes were ranked No. 7 among 4A teams in the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association preseason poll. They graduated All-State pitcher Gabby Snyder, 13-4, 0.51 ERA, who slammed 38 hits and batted .458 last year.
After talking to her players after the game, Sticker turned and said, “I love what I’m doing, and I love these kids.”
More from the softball diamonds
Two ranked 4A Southside teams collided Saturday in a neighborhood rivalry as No. 11 Greenwood shut out No. 7 Center Grove 3-0.
University of Georgia recruit Brittany Gray and relief pitcher Megan Overton combined for a five-hit shutout at Center Grove. Gray drove in Overton with a single for a 1-0 lead in the third. Ryan Bauer scored in the fifth, and Stephanie Smith scored the final run in the sixth.
The Trojans didn’t help their cause by committing four errors.
No. 10 Roncalli is off to a 7-0 start after sweeping a two-day, eight-team tourney at Terre Haute South.
The Rebels defeated Evansville Mater Dei 7-1 for the title after going eight innings to edge North Central (Sullivan County) 6-5 in the semifinal.
Greenwood dropped its home opener to Mooresville 9-7 in Mid-State action but came back to defeat the Pioneers 6-4 on the road.
In their winning effort, the Woodmen scored their first three runs on Mooresville errors. After the Pioneers tied the game at 3, Greenwood scored the winning run in the fifth. Reid Werner picked up the victory, and Jake Still drove in two runs for the winners.
Center Grove reached the title game of its four-team invitational but fell to Zionsville 10-3 Saturday.
Lutheran, No. 2 in Class A, flexed its hitting prowess against 4A Perry Meridian by sweeping a twin bill 5-4 and 8-4. Seth Hogesen won the first game on the mound and notched 12 strikeouts; Eli Goff drove in the winning run. Cody Moncel hit a grand slam in the second game.