Wildcat win – Tharptown Lady Wildcats triumph in Franklin County Championship
By Bart Moss
For the FCT
The Tharptown Lady Wildcats had to scrap and claw their way to the 2016 softball Franklin County Championship over the weekend. Tharptown had to beat back a young and improving Belgreen Bulldog team in three games in the tournament to capture the title.
Players and fans braved a long, cold and windy day with the championship game finally being decided at 11:30 p.m. Saturday night.
In the final and deciding game of the night, Tharptown senior Haley Malone hit for the cycle to carry the Wildcats to an 18-14 victory over Belgreen in seven innings. Malone went 4-for-4 with a double in the first inning, a home run in the second inning, a triple in the third inning and a single in the fifth inning.
Tired arms led to a lot of hits in the final game. There were 32 total runs and 36 hits during the game.
The game went back-and-forth heading into the fifth inning, with four lead changes.
The Wildcats were able to pull out the win because of a strong fifth inning. A steal of home by Kaylee Bain gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
Kaitlyn Vandiver recorded the win from the circle.
Belgreen took an early 4-0 lead in the game. Belgreen’s rally started when Katie Dempsey singled. A single by Emmie Scott moved Dempsey to second. Allyson Bragwell singled, scoring Dempsey. More runs came home for Belgreen when Scott scored on an RBI single by Krista Sikes and scored on a two-run double by Kylie Murray.
The Wildcats posted three runs in each of the first, second and fifth innings. In the the first, the Wildcats scored on a two-run single by Vandiver, scoring Klaudia Harris and Malone.
Tharptown scored on an RBI single by Harris and a two-run home run by Malone.
One run in the top of the sixth helped Belgreen close its deficit to 13-11. An RBI single by Camie Terrell gave Belgreen life. The Wildcats stopped the rally after Vandiver got Dempsey to fly out.
It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to respond as they scored five runs of their own in the sixth. The Wildcats scored on a steal of home by Darla Smith, an RBI triple by Bain, a steal of home by Bain, a walk by Malone and a wild pitch.
After pushing across three runs in the top of the seventh, Belgreen faced just an 18-14 deficit. A single by Bragwell, an RBI single by Anglin, and an RBI single by Terrell fueled Belgreen’s comeback. Finally, Vandiver got Johnna Oliver to ground out to win the game.
Belgreen had won the previous game against Tharptown 17-6 to force the decisive late-night championship game. The Bulldogs scored nine runs in the seventh inning and racked up 21 hits.
Dempsey went 4-for-6 and scored two runs. Bragwell went 3-for-4 with four runs and three RBIs. Courtney Williams went 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs. Scott scored three runs.
In the first meeting of the two teams in the tournament, Tharptown won a late-inning comeback on a two-run blast by Kaitlyn Vandiver.