BOWLING GREEN — Barren County certainly faced a different team Monday than the Franklin-Simpson squad they drubbed 11-0 back in March.
In that game, the Lady Wildcats didn’t start all-region pitcher Madison Davis. In the first round of the 4th Region tournament, Davis struck out five Trojanettes in the last two innings and lifted Franklin-Simpson to a 7-3 win.
“Franklin’s a much better team than their record, especially when Madison Davis is in the circle,” Barren County coach Daryl Murphy said. “We knew it was going to be a tough assignment.”
The Trojanettes started off the game in the typical fashion that helped lead them to a District 15 title.
Barren County starting pitcher Lilie Broady struck out one batter in the top of the first, as Franklin-Simpson went down in order.
With one out in the home half of the first, Mallory Pedigo drove home Allie Anderson with a sharp line drive off the fence to bring in the first run of the game.
Cora Bogue’s single to right field drove Pedigo home for a 2-0 Barren County advantage.
Franklin-Simpson got a pair of baserunners on the paths in the second inning after Caleigh Coats drew a walk and Maddie Utley singled to center with two outs.
Destine Lowhorn drove home the first Franklin-Simpson run in the game the next at-bat, as she singled to right field to cut the lead to 2-1.
Kaysten Thomas knotted the score with a perfectly-placed double down the right-field line. The Lady Wildcats stranded two runners in scoring position, but they had tied the game after the top of the second inning and halted the Barren County momentum.
The Trojanettes also left two runners on base in the home half of the second inning, as Murphy said their bats went cold after the good start.
Davis drew a walk to lead off the top of the third inning, but she wouldn’t advance past first base.
Madison Hagan earned a base on balls to start the bottom of the third inning for the Trojanettes. Bogue joined her on base with a bunt hit, and they both advanced on a groundout to give Barren County runners at second and third with one out.
But Davis stalled the Barren County rally, as the Trojanettes stranded six runners through the first three innings.
Both teams were retired in order in the fourth inning.
After Maggie McBrayer reached on an error with one out in the top of the fifth, Davis banged a double off the right-field wall to give the Lady Wildcats runners at second and third.
Broady struck out the next hitter for a big out. The Trojanettes intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases, and it appeared that they would get out of the inning unscathed when Coats hit a routine fly ball to the outfield.
But neither the outfielder or infielder called for the ball, and it bounced harmlessly on the grass to allow the go-ahead runs to score for the Lady Wildcats.
“We didn’t play our best defensive game by any stretch,” Murphy said. “When you don’t make plays against good teams, they’re going to score runs, and they did.”
Barren County got a baserunner in the bottom of the fifth, but the Trojanettes couldn’t push a run across the plate.
The fifth Franklin-Simpson error of the game gave Barren County a baserunner with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Davis didn’t flinch, as she struck out the next two Trojanettes to preserve the 4-2 lead.
Broady was struck by a line drive in the top of the seventh inning. After a long pause, she was able to stay in the game, but Franklin-Simpson got back-to-back hits to extend the lead to 5-2.
Broady got the next two hitters out, but Maddie Utley singled up the middle to drive home two more runs for the Lady Wildcats.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Pedigo doubled and advanced to third base on an error. Another error on a Hagan grounder allowed Pedigo to score to cut the lead to 7-3.
Bogue reached on a single, but Davis struck out the next hitter and got a ground ball out to end the game.
Barren County ends its season at 31-5, which Murphy said is a major step forward for a program that’s on the upswing.
“Those seniors have won two district championships, and before that, Barren County won one in the whole time that fast pitch has been in. So you want to consider the whole body of work,” he said.
Those seniors — Hagan, Pedigo and Hayden Sutherland — received a long talk from Murphy after the game. He conceded it was hard to see them go after their commitment to Barren County.
“I can’t put into words exactly what they’ve meant to us for four years,” he said. “For me, it’s an emotional situation because of those little things they bring every single day for us.”
Franklin-Simpson (20-17) will face defending region champion Warren East at 6 p.m. Tuesday at WKU.