PITSBURG — Allie Armstrong gave Franklin-Monroe a 3-2 win in its season opener against Versailles on Monday as she came through with a walk-off single in the 10th inning.
Monday’s game turned into a pitchers’ duel with Franklin Monroe’s Belle Cable and Versailles’ Cori Lawrence putting together five consecutive scoreless innings to send the game into the 10th.
Then in the bottom of the 10th, Armstrong came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded following a pair of intentional walks. The Jets’ designated player drove a single into left field that scored Chloe Henninger and gave FM a 3-2 victory.
“That was huge,” Franklin Monroe softball coach Mike Morris said of Armstrong’s game-winning hit. “She’s a senior this year, and she’s come up with a lot of big hits for us over the years. We thought maybe she’d get something in the outfield, and she did.”
Prior to Armstrong’s game winner, Franklin Monroe went scoreless for the previous eight innings.
The Jets started off strong with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first.
Chloe Brumbaugh led off with a walk and took second base on a wild pitch. After a sacrifice bunt by Henninger moved Brumbaugh to third, she scored on an error at the plate to put Franklin Monroe up 1-0.
Kennedy Morris, who got to second on Versailles’ error, broke for third on a passed ball then scored when the throw to third went into the outfield, making it 2-0.
“That’s just trying to get our feet under us,” Versailles coach Chris Floyd said of his team’s defensive miscues in the first inning. “I think we’ve been outside four days of which two of those were just in the outfield because it was too wet. Yeah, I’m happy with it. We’ll get our defense squared away.”
After surrendering a couple quick runs, Versailles regrouped and shut down Franklin Monroe for the next eight innings. Lawrence pitched a strong game and kept the FM hitters off-balance throughout the evening.
“She’s just stepping up,” Floyd said. “Stepping up. Senior leadership. And that’s what we need to see. But that’s what she did against them last year, too.”
Not to be outdone, Franklin Monroe’s Belle Cable came through with a strong performance as well. The sophomore is replacing Emilee Morris, a first team all-Cross County Conference pitcher a year ago, and excelled in her first start as the new FM ace.
“Belle had a great game,” Coach Morris said. “She showed us a lot Friday night; we had a scrimmage, and she shut down West Milton. So we’ve got a lot of confidence in her. She’s not going to be a big power pitcher, but she can throw strikes and trust her defense.”
Versailles was able to get a pair of runs off Cable with the first coming in the top half of the third inning when Savannah Toner cranked a leadoff triple into right field. She then scored moments later on a grounder by Kami McEldowney to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The following inning Versailles got another run and tied the game at 2-2. Lawrence reached base on a error. Her courtesy runner, Hannah Barga, tagged up and took second on a popup to the catcher then scored on a two-out single into center by Mallory George.
“We got some new people stepping up – Hannah Barga, Savannah Toner, juniors coming in, showing me some stuff,” Floyd said. “So we’re a work in progress.”
Both teams had chances to take the lead but missed opportunities. Versailles stranded two runners in the fifth inning when a play at the plate ended the Tigers’ scoring threat, and Franklin Monroe stranded two runners in the seventh after a leadoff double by Nychelle Cool.
That sent the game into extra innings where Franklin Monroe finally broke through and got the game-winning run in the 10th.
“I thought they played well,” Coach Morris said of his team. “Our backs were against the wall a lot tonight.”
Even though his team lost, Floyd was happy with Versailles’ performance – especially considering the Tigers got a late start to their preseason preparations with the basketball team’s runner-up finish in the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
“I’m happy with this performance day one,” he said. “If this was two weeks from now, I wouldn’t be happy with it. We’ve got to start hitting the ball.”
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor of the Greenville Daily Advocate, or follow on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate.