Polk softball season over after third-round loss to Franklin

Published 5:51 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It was a somber ending to a glorious 21-4 season for Polk County's varsity softball team. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

It was a somber ending to a glorious 21-4 season for Polk County’s varsity softball team. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

As any state playoff game should be fought, Polk County and Franklin went to extra innings in the May 19 third-round softball contest.  Franklin emerged with a 4-2 eighth-inning win in a game between two excellent squads.

“I thought we did everything we could do to put ourselves in a position to win,” said long-time Polk coach Jeff Wilson after the game. “I’m so very proud. We’re family,” Wilson added.

“I’m proud of the girls. They gave everything they had. We had some opportunities. We made some opportunities. I’m proud of everything we did this season.”

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Everything the Wolverines did included going 21-4 overall. “Twenty-one and four is something special,” Wilson proudly noted.

Close games were nothing new to the Wolverines, who defeated South Stokes and Brevard, 2-1 each in rounds one and two, respectively.

The Franklin game had the makings of another close one, with two fine pitchers. Polk’s Ashley Scruggs changed speeds effectively, and seemed to have better control than did her otherwise hard-throwing opponent.

No one scored in the first inning, but in the visitors’ second, Franklin scored a run on a line single to center. That came after Polk center fielder Alexis McCraw made a good catch that probably saved at least one run. Scruggs recorded the third out on a pop up, leaving the score at 1-0.

Polk loaded the bases in the home second, but was not able to score.

Some nifty glove work got the Wolverines out of the next inning, when, with two outs, a Franklin runner challenged the wisdom about not making the first or final out of the inning at third base. She had third stolen, but over-slid the bag, after Polk catcher Ashley Kropp’s strong throw. Autumn Owen alertly applied the tag, ending the threat, and keeping the score 1-0.

In the top of the fourth, Franklin went ahead, 2-0, on a single, sacrifice bunt and a line single to the outfield.

Hayley Kropp blasted a line drive fair down the left-field line in the home fifth, with the ball bouncing over the fence for a ground-rule double. She was unable to advance however, and after five, Franklin still led, 2-0. So it remained until the home seventh, when Polk, refusing to concede anything, tied the game.

Maddy Foy led off with a line single to right. A fielder’s choice grounder rubbed out Foy at second, with a runner on first with one down. Autumn Owen walked, putting runners at first and second. A dribbler to the pitcher forced Polk’s runner at third, bringing another freshman, Maranda Gosnell, to the plate. Gosnell belted a two-run, game-tying double, igniting Polk players and fans alike.

Polk was unable to score again in the seventh, but the Wolverines had forced extra-inning play. In the top of the eighth, Franklin got a leadoff single, and a two-run homer to center, to move ahead, 4-2, putting Polk against the proverbial wall once again.

The magic was gone, at least in that instance. Suddenly, after the third out in the home eighth, and the game over, Polk fans went nearly silent.

“Our Creed. Our Bond” was the slogan this year for the Wolverines, who made it much more than a slogan, and really did look, as Wilson commented, like a family.

“We had a good run,” he observed.