ARCANUM – With nerves running high, both Arcanum and Franklin Monroe made some uncharacteristic mistakes on Monday.
But it was the Lady Trojans who were able to overcome their missteps and defeat the rival Lady Jets 4-2 in a Cross County Conference softball game.
“We were fortunate to come out with a win,” Arcanum coach Rick Stone said. “FM is a great ball team. Those mistakes we made today you can’t make against a good ball team. We had bases loaded twice, no outs, did not score. I think we had four errors in the game, which that’s not us; we hadn’t had an error in the last five games. But it’s a big rivalry. I think the emotions on both sides … the girls were kind of pushing a little bit and trying to press. But the big thing is we came away with the win. We’re lucky to come away with the win.”
Franklin Monroe coach Mike Morris also saw a lot of nerves from his team.
“As a whole the focus wasn’t there was kind of what I thought,” he said. “We were kind of throwing the ball around. We typically don’t do that. We made a lot of mental mistakes, but other than that … we hit the ball. I don’t think we struck out tonight. We put the ball in play.”
Both teams had opportunities to score early but couldn’t push any runs across the plate.
In the top half of the first Emilee Morris and Nychelle Cool had back-to-back two-out hits but both were stranded in scoring position.
In the bottom half of the inning Arcanum loaded the bases with none out. After Abbie Bruns was hit by a pitch, Loganne Stone reached on a fielder’s choice as Bruns was caught in a rundown but made it safely back to second. Brittany Kinney then was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
However, Franklin Monroe got out of the inning with two pop ups and a strikeout.
“When they got bases loaded with no outs I was very proud of my team because they didn’t score a run,” Coach Morris said. “We buckled down.”
After a scoreless first, Franklin Monroe got the game’s first run in the second inning. Morgan Bingham led off with an infield single and went to third on back-to-back sacrifice bunts by Morgan Booher and Brigette Filbrun. A two-out error by Arcanum then allowed Bingham to score and put the Jets up 1-0.
After stranding five runners in the first two innings, Arcanum finally got some in during the third.
Kinney and McKenzie Sharritts both singled and stole a base to give the Trojans two runners in scoring position. They then both scored on a single by Kaitlyn Zell to give Arcanum a 2-1 lead.
Arcanum added to its lead with another run one inning later. Elle Siculan drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored on a single by Shelby Howard to make it 3-1 in favor of the Trojans.
Franklin Monroe made it a one-run game again in the fifth inning as Kinsey Goins led off with a single and scored on a double by Carrie Baker, reducing Arcanum’s lead to 3-2.
FM thought it had something going in the sixth inning with a leadoff single by Allie Armstrong. However, Arcanum got out the inning with a pop up then a double play on a line drive to Abby Ross at second.
“Oh, my gosh, the play at second base,” Coach Morris said. “Booher hit that ball; they doubled us up. That was going into the gap. If she had been playing where she had been playing all night, I think that would have been a big turnaround.”
Arcanum added an insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth. Siculan led off with a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Bruns and scored on an infield single by Kinney to increase the Trojan lead to 4-2.
In the seventh Franklin Monroe again threatened before Arcanum made some big plays to get out of a jam.
Filbrun and Goins led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Arcanum got Filbrun out on a fielder’s choice come-backer to the mound, but FM loaded the bases with a single by Kennedy Morris. The Trojans got out of the bases-loaded situation, though, when Kinney snagged a line drive at third and stepped on the bag for a game-ending double play.
“Hats off to FM,” Coach Stone said. “They’re a great team, and hopefully they go far in the tournament, and hopefully we do, too. It feels good to come out of here with a win.”
Arcanum remained undefeated in the CCC with Monday’s win. The Trojans will put their unblemished league record on the line again Tuesday when they play host to National Trail before finishing up league play at Tri-County North on Thursday.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Franklin Monroe as the Jets play host to state-ranked Covington on Tuesday.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.