CASSTOWN – Every player and coach dreams of that moment: the bottom of the final inning with their last at bat – hitting a home run or scoring a game-winning run.
The Franklin Monroe Lady Jets, with their backs against the wall, did both Wednesday in the sectional finals against the Southeastern Trojans.
“There’s no quit in them,” Coach Mike Morris said regarding their big comeback over the final four innings. “We (the coaches) told them from day one that we are a very, very good team. We’re one of the top teams in the league, and that usually the top teams in the league go deep into the tournament.”
Things didn’t start great for the Lady Jets. In the top of the first inning the Southeastern Trojans scored twice – once on a RBI from Hayley Lee, sending in Leslie Flores, and on a RBI from Logan McFann, sending in Maddy McKee.
Carrie Baker started out the Lady Jets’ first at-bat with a double, but the opportunity was wasted after the next three batters were thrown out or struck out and the inning ended with Franklin Monroe down 2-0.
In the top of the third inning, the Trojans scored again on another RBI from Lee, again, sending in Flores. With the score 3-0 in Southeastern’s favor, it seemed as if the Trojans were running away with the game – but Franklin Monroe would not be held down any longer.
The Jets’ defense tightened up, and their bats started connecting.
“They started believing in each other,” Coach Morris said. “There’s no split team – they’re all together, win or lose.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Baker hit her second double of the game, sending in Brigette Filbrun for the Lady Jets’ first score of the game. Down 3-1, Franklin Monroe was showing signs of life on offense.
In the top of the sixth inning, Morgan Booher hit a triple, sending in Morgan Bingham to make the score 3-2. With two outs, Booher would remain on third as the inning ended on a ground out.
In the top of the seventh, the Lady Jets continued their dominance on defense. Emilee Morris made a leaping stop and threw the runner out at first, Filbrun made a catch at first, and it was topped off by Bingham stomping on a ground hit, changing direction and throwing the runner out at first.
With their final breath, the Lady Jets started the bottom of the seventh off with a bang – literally – a sailing home run over the center field fence by Kinsey Goins to tie the game 3-3. The coaches could feel it, the crowd could feel it, but most importantly, the players could feel it. After the home run, Baker singled, Morris and Nychelle Cool were walked, and Allie Armstrong connected to send in Baker for the game-ending run.
“I’m so happy for the seniors. This is our third trip to districts in four years – that’s something special,” Coach Morris said.
Baker went 4-for-4 with two doubles, one run scored and one RBI. Armstrong went 3-for-4 with the game-winning RBI. Bingham scored a run. Booher had a triple with one RBI. Filbrun scored a run. Goins went 3-for-3 with a home run to tie the game in the seventh inning.
For Southeastern, Flores went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. McKee scored a run. Lee went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. McFann had one RBI.
Pitcher Emilee Morris pitched a complete game with three runs allowed, zero walks, five hits and four strikeouts.
When Coach Morris was asked about his pitcher, Emilee Morris, coming back after giving up three runs – to allow one hit in the last half of the game and zero runs: “She shut them down. It took her a while to get going—she’s been battling pneumonia, but she felt good tonight so we said you’re our best pitcher and you’re going to throw. That’s what she does. She trusts her defense, lets them put the ball in play, and Morris did excellent.”
In those final four innings, Southeastern had 13 batters, two were struck out, one hit a single, and the focused Lady Jets defense cleaned up the rest.
“This is my fourth year (coaching). We’ve been to districts three years in a row, and we’ve come up short twice. We’ve got a heck of an opponent in Williamsburg. We went and watched them last night – they’re 25-0 or something but you know what? We’re not afraid of anybody. We actually want to play Covington after that game, so that’s what the girls want.”
The way the Franklin Monroe Lady Jets are playing, they may just get their wish. They play Williamsburg at 5 p.m. Friday at Mason High School.