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Thursday’s opener in the District 8-AAA softball game between Tullahoma and Franklin County was a microcosm of the Lady Wildcats season itself. There were injuries, costly errors and a come-from-behind effort that fell just short.
At Tullahoma’s home field at East Middle School, visiting Franklin County topped Tullahoma 6-5. The Rebelettes move on to face top-seeded Lincoln County on Saturday. In Thursday’s other tournament game, Shelbyville beat Columbia 5-1 in Shelbyville.
Shelbyville was scheduled to face Lawrence County on Saturday.
Tullahoma and Columbia now fall to the losers bracket of the double-elimination conference tournament. They will await the losers of Saturday’s games, with Tullahoma facing the Shelbyville/Lawrence County loser at 7 p.m. on Monday in Fayetteville, where the remainder of the tournament will be played.
Tullahoma puts itself in the tough position of playing through the tournament losers bracket because of six errors. Franklin County scored three runs on two hits and two errors in the first inning and never relinquished the lead.
The Lady Cats battled back, tying the game at 5-all in the sixth inning.
“It’s hard to stay in the game making as many errors as we did, but the girls kept battling and did a good job of fighting back to tie the score,” said THS head coach David Cardwell. “We had some key hits and some good defensive plays too.”
In the top of the seventh inning, the Rebelettes scored the winning run — which was unearned — thanks to an error and a passed ball. Franklin County’s KK Daniel reached on an error and moved into scoring position when Taylor Holmes drew a walk.
Daniel scored from third when a pitch got by Tullahoma catcher Megan Grenier. The Lady Cats went down in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Dani Kirkpatrick started and worked two innings for Tullahoma, giving up four runs on four hits. She left before the start of the third inning, however; after she was injured while warming up. Freshman Taylor Honea pitched the final five innings.
Kirkpatrick’s injury added to Tullahoma’s woes, as the Lady Cats were playing without starting shortstop Hannah Sircy. Sircy’s absence in the middle of the THS defense forced Cardwell to once again shift his lineup, a situation the veteran coach has been in since the season began.
“It is tough to have injuries to key players this late in the season, but (I am) proud of the girls who stepped in to play hard,” said Cardwell. “As I have told them, everyone has to be ready at any time. Taylor did a great job pitching after Dani got hurt, as well as Lindsey (Bowen) moving to third base and Amanda (French) in right field. We know we can compete if we play defense and hit the way we know how.”
Cardwell said he hoped to have an update on the injuries to Kirkpatrick and Sircy soon.
By ROBERT HOLMAN, Sports Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)