PITSBURG — After losing three of its past five games, the Franklin Monroe softball team practiced in the gym Wednesday, the first time the Lady Jets practiced inside since the season began.
The change of routine was meant as a way of resetting the season. On Thursday it seemed to have paid off as Franklin Monroe beat perennial powerhouse Newton 2-1 in a Cross County Conference softball game.
“We played excellent,” Franklin Monroe coach Mike Morris said. “We’ve had a couple rough nights here. We went back in the gym last night for the first time for practice and just kind of started over because we had lost three of the last five games. We worked hard last night. We came out tonight; we was focused; we was fired up.”
The game began with pitching and defense dominating the first three innings as neither team was able to score a run.
“The defense was excellent tonight,” Morris said. “Kristen (Stryker) was throwing strikes. She’s been doing that all year.”
That changed in the fourth inning when Newton took advantage of the lone walk issued by Stryker.
Megan Rutledge led off the inning for Newton with a walk. She then advanced to second and third on a sacrifice grounder by Laura Oaks and a sacrifice bunt by Rylee Schauer.
With two outs in the inning, Rose Studebaker singled up the middle to drive in Rutledge and give Newton a 1-0 lead.
The Indians didn’t hold the lead for long, however, as the Lady Jets responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Carrie Baker led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. Jordan Stickley then reached on a Newton error, but the Indians salvaged the play as they caught Baker trying to advance to third for the first out of the inning.
After Stickley stole second base to give Franklin Monroe a runner in scoring position, Stryker hit a double over the left fielder’s head to score Stickley and tie the game at 1-1.
One batter later the Jets took the lead as Booher hit a RBI single to right field to score Stryker and put Franklin Monroe up 2-1.
“They been doing that all year,” Morris said. “Stryker and Booher is leading our team in RBIs. We get the girls on ahead of them, they’ve been putting them in.”
After giving up a pair of hits in the fifth inning, Stryker and the FM defense set down Newton in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to cap off the 2-1 victory.
With the win against Newton, who last year won a district championship, the Lady Jets appear to be back on track now, Morris said. The win was a big confidence booster, he said, and should help them as they get ready for the quickly approaching postseason tournament.
“You beat Newton two years in a row, that’s saying something,” Morris said. “That don’t happen very often.”