Lady Seahawk eighth grade second baseman Lilah Millender smiles through her tears after Franklin County fell 3-1 last week to the Liberty County Lady Bulldogs in the Class 1A regional finals in Blountstown.
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Lady Seahawks fall in regional finals

It was a hard-fought game from start to finish, and could have gone either way, if a runner had been a step slower or a ball had been a few inches further to the right or left in the infield.

But in the end, the ball bounced the Liberty County Lady Bulldogs’ way on May 16 in Blountstown, and they emerged as the Class 1A regional champ, while the Lady Seahawks finished as runner-up, ranked sixth in the state with a final record of 19-9.

The Lady Seahawk team stands with their regional runner-up trophy. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

“We hit it where they could just get to it and make a play,” said coach Scott Collins. “Watching these regional tournaments you got to have a little luck to win against these teams.”

Neither team scored in the first inning, and after the Lady Seahawks couldn’t put a run across in the top of the second, it was Liberty County’s turn in the bottom of the inning.

Sophomore pitcher Sarah Ham looked to have the form that would enable her to strike out seven and allow just three walks during her six winnings of work. 

Sophomore pitcher Sarah Ham prepares to launch a pitch against Liberty County. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

With two outs, the Lady Bulldog hitter smacked a slow infield grounder, scooped up and thrown by seventh grade shortstop Addison Mallon to sophomore first baseman Michalyn O’Neal, but the umpire ruled she had beaten the ball to the baseman.

By the end of the inning two earned runs had crossed the plate and the Lady Bulldogs were ahead 2-0.

In the top of the third, Franklin County scored a run, after junior Taylor Mallon hit a long fly ball to right center that earned her a double.

Junior right fielder Taylor Mallon relays the ball into the infield. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

She then stole third, and then freshman Averie Johnson hit a sharp liner to center that scored Mallon. Johnson and Mallon would each go 2 for 3 for the game, tallying four of the team’s seven hits.

Ham struck out the side in the bottom of the third, and retired all three of the batters she faced in the fourth on a grounder and two fly balls.

But in the bottom of the fifth. Lady Bulldog junior Caleigh Peddie blasted a home run at Sam Adkins Park, and Liberty County led 3-1.

It would stay that way until the top of the seventh, when the Lady Seahawks had their last chance to win.

Sixth grader Shasta Butler eyes a pitch getting ready to cross home plate. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

Ham grounded out to the shortstop, but then sixth grade third baseman Shasta Butler reached first on an error. Taylor Mallon popped up to the third baseman.

With two outs, Johnson kept the Lady Seahawks’ hopes alive with a single to right that advanced Butler to second. Sophomore Ryan Brown then beat out a throw to first, and the bases were loaded with two outs and eighth grade second baseman Lilah Millender at bat.

She hit a hard grounder that looked destined for a hit, but the second baseman was playing near the bag, right where the ball went, and scooped it up, and the Lady Bulldogs had their win.

Freshman Lexi Webb signals for a time out at the plate against Liberty County. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

“I think our girls were very focused and played hard. They gave it all they had and there were a couple of bounces that just didn’t go our way,” said Collins. “Sarah threw another outstanding game and kept us within striking distance.”

In addition to Brown and Butler, freshman Lexi Webb also singled, and the team committed no errors.

“With so many returners, we have a good chance to be back in the same position next year,” said Collins.

A banquet is slated for Wednesday, May 31 at St. James Bay.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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