AUSTIN, Texas — In their first-ever appearance at the state tournament in Austin, the Franklin Lady Lions showed plenty of resilience, battling back from deficits in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings before finally falling 14-10 in the semifinals against Coahoma.
"I'm not surprised," Franklin Head Coach Jordan Lyle said. "All year, they just competed and got after it. It doesn't matter how many times we get hit, we're gonna hit em back."
After a scoreless first inning, the Lady Lions opened the scoring in the bottom of the second. Maggie Smitherman singled through the right side and later moved to third on an error. She eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Franklin would expand the lead to 3-0 in the third inning on an Emma Rekieta single down the left field line which scored Kaylin Ortner from second base.
After throwing just 24 pitches in the first three innings combined, Franklin pitcher Reese Cottrell finally ran into trouble in the fourth inning. Hannah Wells launched a solo home run to left field to cut the lead to 3-1. The Bulldogettes later scored on an RBI single to slash the lead in half.
Coahoma finally took its first lead of the game in the fifth inning, scoring three runs in the top of the inning before Franklin retook the lead with two in the bottom half.
After a scoreless sixth, Franklin hoped to close the game out in the seventh inning, but they could not put the finishing touches on a thrilling game.
With a runner on first base and one out, Wells ripped her second home run of the game over the fence in left-center field. The blast gave Coahoma a one-run lead heading into the game's final frame.
But, with their backs against the wall, Franklin responded.
Traci Lowry reached first on a one-out error. She was subbed out for pinch runner Hailey Hays. Hays then stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and, with two outs, crossed the plate on yet another wild pitch, tying the game and sending it to extra innings.
"I'm just so proud of them," Lyle said. "Down one with one out to go, you just look at 'em and know they're not out of it. It's a testament to how hard they work and how prepared they are."
In extras, the Bulldogettes put up three runs in the top of the eighth, seemingly putting the nail in Franklin's coffin.
But, once again, with their backs against the wall, Franklin responded.
Kyleigh Cambiano led off the inning with a single. Ortner followed it up with another base hit, and the pair advanced into scoring position on a throwing error.
On the following at-bat, Hailey Fannin hit a ground ball on the infield, but the throw home did not arrive on time, and Cambiano slid under the tag at the plate, cutting the lead to two runs.
Ortner then scored on a fielder's choice and Rekieta singled to score Fannin from third base and tie the game at 10.
In the ninth inning, Coahoma finally put the game out of reach, scoring four runs on just one hit. Cottrell, who mowed through the first few innings, struggled down the stretch. She finished the game with 148 total pitches. 86 of those were strikes.
"They're like family to me, and this hurts," Lyle said.
The 14-10 defeat ends Franklin's season in the semifinals, the deepest playoff run in program history. Coahoma advances to the Class 3A state title game, where they will play Hallettsville.