The Franklin Academy Lady Cougars won their first state championship in eight years when they prevailed in the decisive game three of their best-of-three series against Prairie View Academy to claim the Class 3A state championship.
The Lady Cougars had earned home field advantage in the championship series by virtue of going undefeated during the state tournament (a double elimination tournament comprised of the top eight teams remaining in the Class 3A playoffs), meaning that game one, and game three if necessary would be played on their home field.
Lady Cougars storm back late to take first game over PVA
Game one took place Oct. 6, in Winnsboro. Anne Elise Sartin started in the circle for the Lady Cougars, and neither team was able to score until Franklin came to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Sartin singled with one out, and Macie Wall doubled to place runners on second and third. Taylor Biggs then battled through a twelve-pitch at bat that resulted in an out but required a considerable amount of effort from the opposing pitcher. Amanda Hatton then came to the plate with two outs and lined the first pitch she saw for a double that scored both Sartin and Wall.
Prairie View answered in the top of the fifth with three unearned runs to take a 3-2 lead. The score remained 3-2 until the bottom of the sixth when Sartin returned to the plate with one out and crushed the first pitch she saw for a solo home run to center that tied the score 3-3. Wall and Hatton continued the rally with singles to place runners on first and second with two outs. Natalie Roberts, a senior, then doubled off the top of the fence in center to score Wall. Avaree McCain followed that up with a single to score Hatton and put Franklin up 5-3.
Sartin closed the door in the top of the seventh inning retiring the side in order.
Sartin, Wall and Hatton led the offensive assault with two hits each, while Aydenn McCain, Roberts and Avaree McCain each contributed one hit. Sartin was the winning pitcher. The junior pitched seven innings, allowing no earned runs on six hits, while striking out two and walking one.
Spartans win game two
The Lady Cougars played their fifth game in five days Oct. 7, at Prairie View Academy, and their lack of rest showed in a 14-4 loss.
Franklin struck first in the top of the first inning when Aydenn McCain singled and Shelby Dickerson walked. Both players would score later in the inning on wild pitches. Macie Wall subsequently walked and was on base when Taylor Biggs drove a 3-1 pitch over the centerfield fence for a two-run home run that staked Franklin to an early 4-0 lead.
It was all Prairie View from there.
The Lady Spartans, who had only lost three games before this week, showed why they were such a formidable opponent and held serve at home. Fortunately, the Lady Cougars had a rest day on Friday before the decisive Game 3 would be played on Saturday, October 9.
Biggs led the Lady Cougars with two hits, while Aydenn McCain and Kennedi Remore had one hit each. Sartin was the losing pitcher, and Avaree McCain pitched two innings in relief.
FA builds early lead in game three
Before Franklin Academy defeated Prairie View in the State tournament to earn home field advantage, the Lady Spartans had only lost three times all season and had a record of 28-3 at that time.
This meant that for the Lady Cougars to become state champions, they would have to hand Prairie View the same number of defeats in one week that they had had all season. It would be an extremely difficult task, but the Lady Cougars were ready to answer the bell.
Following a similar script to game one, neither team was able to score through the top of the third inning.
Natalie Roberts led off the bottom of the third inning by driving a 2-2 pitch for a double. Alex Mackey then pinch ran for Roberts, and Avaree McCain sacrificed Mackey to third base. Kennedi Remore then hit a sacrifice fly that scored Mackey and gave Franklin the early 1-0 lead.
The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Lady Cougars exploded for four runs. Natalie Roberts continued her hot batting when she drove an 0-2 pitch into the street behind center field for a home run to lead off the inning and make the score 2-0. Remore and Aydenn McCain then had back-to-back singles. Shelby Dickerson, a senior who anchored the Lady Cougar defense all season with her exceptional skills at shortstop, then grounded out to move Remore and McCain to second and third base with two outs.
Anne Elise Sartin then demolished a 1-2 pitch for a three-run home run to center that made the score 5-0.
Prairie View pushed one run across in the top of the sixth to make the score 5-1. The Lady Spartans made one final effort in the top of the seventh when they opened the inning with four consecutive hits; however, the Franklin Academy defense, which had been excellent all season, was not going to allow any comeback on this day.
The third batter of the inning grounded to Amanda Hatton in left field for a single. Hatton threw the ball in quickly to Taylor Biggs, who then nailed a Prairie View runner at the plate with an accurate throw to Macie Wall who applied the tag for the first out. From that point Franklin Academy’s two seniors made the final two defensive plays of the game. Shelby Dickerson made a great play to her left to field a grounder and toss the ball to Avaree McCain at second for a fielder’s choice and the second out, then Natalie Roberts caught a pop fly at first base to end the contest. The final score was 5-3.
Aydenn McCain and Roberts had two hits each to lead the bats on the day, while Dickerson, Sartin and Remore each had one hit. Sartin was the winning pitcher. She pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on eleven hits, striking out three and walking one.
The Franklin Academy Lady Cougars ended their season with a record of 29-8 and the title of Class 3A State Champions.