Panthers Power Past Wellesley In Tournament Opener

Franklin softball Kate Fallon-Comeau Anna Balkus
Franklin head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau waves Anna Balkus home in a game against Wellesley. (Peter Raider/HockomockSports.com)

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Contributor

FRANKLIN, Mass. — In a preliminary round matchup in MIAA Division One South tournament the 11th-seeded Franklin softball team played a near-flawless game, shutting out #22 Wellesley with a convincing 11-0 win.

After allowing a one-out single in the top of the first inning, Panther starter Jackie Cherry (4.1 IP, 1H, 5K) was lights out and didn’t allow another Raider hit while she was in the game.

Meanwhile, Franklin wasted little time to get its offense in gear. In the bottom of the first, Anna Balkus reached on a bunt single and came home two batters later on an RBI triple by Sarah Jackson.

Franklin struck again in the bottom of the third, this time for five runs as it sent nine batters to the plate. Ally Shea led off with a single and Balkus followed with a base hit. Maddy White grounded into a fielder’s choice, but with runners on first and first, Gabby Colace came through with an RBI single and Tara Hartnett did the same in Franklin’s next at-bat.

Cherry helped her own cause with a two-run single to center to put the Panthers up 5-0. Kylie Bouzan reached on an infield single, but the late throw to first was high, which allowed Cherry, who advanced to third on the single, to score.

“Attack…if you see a good pitch, hit it,” said Franklin manager Kate Fallon-Comeau on her team’s strategy at the plate.

 

In the bottom of the fourth, Franklin once again sent nine batters to the plate and scored another five runs. The script was similar to the prior inning, as both Shea and Balkus reached on singles, and White came through with a single. A throwing error scored Shea, and Jackson got her second RBI of the night as she singled to score Balkus. Colace brought home White with another single, and Cherry picked up her third and fourth RBI with another base hit.

Franklin wasn’t done hitting yet, however, as in the bottom of the fifth, Shea singled for Franklin, her third hit of the game, and also the 100th of her illustrious career at Franklin.

Cherry was replaced in the top of the fifth for Emily Valentino, who retired eight of the nine batters she faced in relief, with the lone hit being a single by MacKenzie O’Neil in the top of the sixth. Cherry and Valentino combined to allow just two hits while striking out eight.

“Both Jackie and Emily had a good day on the mound, Jackie kind of settled in after the first inning, really shut them down and Emily came right in and picked up where Jackie left off so it was nice to see,” Fallon-Comeau said about Franklin’s pitching performance.

With the win, Franklin moves on to face #6 Braintree. That game will be played at 3:30 in Braintree on Saturday.

“We just have to do what we’ve been doing all season long, one at-bat at a time, one inning at a time, and hopefully at the end of seven, we come out on top,” Fallon-Comeau said about Franklin’s approach against the Wamps.

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