Senior staff writer
Franklin Central scored 13 runs on 15 hits against Lutheran on May 11 to reach the Marion County softball championship game later that night on the Flashes’ field.
The Flashes faced Decatur Central for the title as the top 20 4A teams got together for a pitchers duel. When the night ended, Franklin Central would have gladly traded for two runs from their first game.
The Hawks, behind 6-0 junior pitcher Kayli Ricketts, edged the Flashes 1-0. Ricketts produced the game-winning hit – a solo home run over the center field fence in the sixth inning – that dashed Franklin Central’s hopes to raise the trophy.
In a quirk due to the brackets, coach Kathy Stricker’s Flashes was the visiting team in both games. It meant that they had one last chance against the Hawks. In the seventh the Flashes struck out twice and grounded out.
“We needed to get more runners on base, but it was that home run that decided it,” Stricker said. “We had a close play at first that didn’t go our way. That’s the kind of championship game that you expect to see each team play. It was a close game, and it was well-played by both teams. It came down to just one hit.”
Flashes pitcher Katie Back had given up only four hits in five innings until Ricketts hit her homer.
The Hawks threatened in the fourth, but FC came up with a defensive gem with runners on second and third and only one out. Shortstop Claire Gilliland fielded a hard-hit grounder, looked at third and threw to catcher Mariah Jenkins, who teamed with third baseman Emma Herron to trap Kenzee Smith in a rundown.
“Ricketts is a great pitcher,” Stricker said. She’s imposing. But Katie is a great pitcher too. We’ll take her anytime.”
The Flashes opened the game by putting Mackenzie Hart and Gilliland on base with one out. Ricketts struck out the next two Flashes, which began a string of six straight strike outs. The Flashes never got a runner beyond first base after that. She struck out the side in the second on 11 pitches.
FC advanced to the title game by dominating Class A Lutheran with a five-run fifth inning. Herron, Back and Jaida Austin each had three hits; Austin and Herron drove in three runs apiece.
The Flashes were aided by three Lutheran errors.
Back went four innings, gave up three hits and allowed only one runner to reach third.
Lutheran center fielder Rylee Morris made a diving catch to rob Kayla Green of an extra-base hit in the third. Lutheran pitcher Kimmie Kuehr stabbed a line drive off Taytum Schaney in the fourth.
Class 4A at Holder Field
Monday: 5:30 p.m., Perry Meridian vs. Southport; 7:30 p.m., Decatur Central vs. Pike. Tuesday: 5:30 p.m., winners G1 vs. G2; 7:30 p.m., Roncalli vs. Ben Davis. May 24: 6 p.m., championship.
At Center Grove
Monday: 5:30 p.m., Martinsville at Franklin Central; 7:30 p.m., Franklin vs. Center Grove. Tuesday: 5:30 p.m., winners G1 vs. G2; 7:30 p.m., Whiteland vs. Greenwood. May 24: 6 p.m., championship.
Class 3A at New Palestine
Monday: 6 p.m., New Palestine vs. Herron. Tuesday, 5 p.m., Brebeuf vs. Manual; Chatard vs. winner G4. May 24: 6 p.m., championship.
At Indian Creek
Monday: 5:30 p.m., Danville vs. Indian Creek; 7:30 p.m., Washington vs. Greencastle. Wednesday: 5:30 p.m., winners G1 vs. G2; 7:30 p.m., Beech Grove vs. Northwest. May 24: 6 p.m., championship.
Class A at Lutheran
Monday: 5 p.m., Eminence vs. Bethesda Christian; 6:30 p.m., Lutheran vs. Tindley. Tuesday: 5 p.m., winners G1 vs. G2; 6:30 p.m., University vs. Indiana Deaf School; May 24: 5 p.m., championship.
Sectional winners advance to the May 30 regionals.