Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer
Franklin High School (FHS) baseball and softball teams experienced varying highs and lows the past couple of weeks on the diamond. The varsity girls extended their winning streak, while Panthers baseball had mixed results, with one shining moment being a no-hitter April 21.
Softball rolls on
The Lady Panthers have earned a very impressive 12-game winning streak and are steamrolling toward a Mountain Seven Conference (MSC) regular season championship. FHS softball continued its dominance April 28 with a 17-0 home win over the Smoky Mountain Mustangs. This game followed one in which FHS overwhelmed North Henderson, 20-3, on April 25. With only two conference games left, the Lady Panthers have a 16-3 (10-1 conference) record with their only loss coming back in mid-March at Tuscola. Their next most recent victory came Friday, April 21, when they defeated the Pisgah Black Bears in Canton by a score of 6-3.
Star players continued to shine in the win over the Mustangs. FHS pounded out 18 hits. Some standouts included senior Tori Ensley with a 3 for 4 night that included scoring two runs, driving two in, and also hitting two doubles. Junior Delaney Stiles had two runs batted in (RBI) of her own, including a home run (HR). Freshman Kendall Rumans had another strong night offensively going 2 for 3 with one RBI, a triple and a HR. Junior pitcher Meyaeh Tran went all five innings, allowing only two hits to go along with three strikeouts.
Remaining games on the schedule included a game at West Henderson Tuesday, May 2, and the final home game vs. TC Roberson Thursday, May 4.
Baseball heads toward conference
This month opened with the Panthers traveling to Hendersonville to again face the West Henderson Falcons on Monday, May 1. The Falcons came in undefeated in conference but suffered their first loss as FHS beat them 10-8. The hitting star of the night was senior Caleb Cloer, who went 3-4 at the plate with two doubles, and four RBI. Hayes also scored two of the 10 runs by the Panthers. Also contributing was junior Jaden Rogers, who logged two hits of his own to go with two RBI. FHS finished the regular season third in the MSC with a 7-5 record. Their next and last game before the conference tournament will be at Christ School in Arden May 4.
On Tuesday, April 25, the varsity baseball team celebrated Senior Night. Four players, J.J. Postell, Ben Waldroop, Davis Anders, and Caleb Cloer were recognized, along with their parents and families.
Mission Health Sports Program Manager Shelli Landis, Angel Medical Center Administrative Supervisor Cara Smith, FHS Head Athletic Trainer Lynnette Gibson, and Athletic Trainer Justin Byland were recognized by the Mission Health system for their support to FHS athletics.
Both the varsity and junior varsity (JV) squads lost their games that evening. In the varsity team’s case, they battled a Falcons team that was 8-0 in conference and 16-3 overall. The Panthers lost 4-0, managing only six hits for the entire game. The JV boys also lost their game, 11-2. Coming off a no-hitter vs. Smoky Mountain, junior pitcher Josiah Hursey got through the first two innings, again not allowing a hit.
Following a tough loss at Smoky Mountain, April 18, the baseball Panthers were eager to have another shot at the Mustangs. While both contests were originally scheduled to be played at the Western Carolina University campus, Franklin moved their home game back to Macon Middle School. With only two more conference games left, and both against first place West Henderson, FHS was eager to notch a win April 21.
And what a win it was – junior pitcher Josiah Hursey threw a five-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 win. Head Coach Jared Greenwood said about the performance, “Josiah threw the ball great. The defense was behind him all night and our bats finally showed back up. Great team win – which we needed. Most fight we have had all season and we will build off that moving into this week as we close out the conference and get ready for the playoffs.”
On the offensive side of things, the Panthers logged 11 hits, with three batters each getting two safeties. Juniors Reed Raby and Ian Knepp each had RBI as did senior Davis Anders. Sophomore Tyler Williams also had two hits – a double and a triple, along with an RBI of his own. FHS set the tone in the first with four runs scored and then scored two in each of the next two innings. They closed out the bottom of the fifth with the final two runs to reach the 10-run mercy margin and thereby secure Hursey’s gem.
The FHS junior varsity team was shut out at West Henderson Monday, May 1, by a score of 13-0. They also lost their home game against the Falcons April 25, 11-2. However, the previous week, the boys won one against Smoky Mountain, 6-5. In that game, Head Coach Colin Taylor’s team logged their third win in five attempts. The JV Panthers are now 3-10 on the season with just one remaining game at North Buncombe that was played Tuesday, May 2.