They fought through rain, and delays, but the county’s 10-and-under softball girls, the Angels made a clean sweep of districts and now are on their way to the state tournament next month.
Under the direction of head coach Michael Dasher, Jr. and assistant coaches Thorne Wheeler and Buck Melvin, the Angels bested the competition at the districts in Marianna over a long weekend June 16 through 20.
The team plays under X-play rules, which allow for stealing and other more competitive aspects of advanced play. Following the spring season, these All-Stars were formed from teams throughout the county.
They include #60 Swayzee Lane, #4 Amelie Cannon, #10 Trista Wheeler, #11 Kelsey King, #23 Charlie Mathis, #3 MaKynley Lane, #13 Juliette Cannon, #1 Lexi Griggs, #2 Paisleigh Taylor, #5 Preslee Dasher, #7 Shelbie Melvin, and #12 Jacelynn Thompson.
The team’s first district game, Friday, June 16, was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m. CT but didn’t get underway until 8:45 p.m. CT.
“We didn’t get to the Waffle House until midnight their time,” said Tanja Wheeler, a parent who keeps the scorebook.
Melvin struck out six in pitching a five-inning complete game, as the Angels downed Port St. Joe 13-4 victory.
Defensive skills were key to the victory, as Lane at shortstop snagged some line drives, second baseman Wheeler got a lead runner out when she tossed to Lane covering second, and catcher Cannon fielded a bunt and picked the runner off at first.
The Angles banged out several doubles as they tallied a nine-run victory.
On Saturday, the girls took on Blountstown at 5 p.m. CT, and King managed to strike out two of the first four batters she faced before the game was delayed due to rain.
The team was patient but the field was soon covered with water and that was it for the night.
When the game resumed on Sunday, June 18 at 2 p.m. CT, King was back on the mound, and picked up where she left off, striking out the batter to end the first inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Wheeler scored a run, and then in the second, it was three up three down, with King striking out two and making a play on a grounder for the third out.
King duplicated herself in the third, striking out all three batters, and then in the bottom of the third, the Franklin County girls exploded for five runs. The rally was set off when MaKynley Lane smacked a double to drive in the two runners on base.
In the top of the fourth, King struck out two, and Lexi Griggs made a key play at first for another three up three down inning.
The Angels added a run in the bottom of the fourth, and led 7-0, but another weather delay sent everyone to the dugout.
As the team were waiting, Blountstown decided to accept the forfeit to suffer their first loss. King ended up striking out 10 for the game.
In the nightcap of the doubleheader, the Angels took on Wewahitchka and ousted them from the tournament, as Lane hurled a four-inning complete game shutout, 11-0, striking out six.
The Angels scored three in the first, and in the second, Cannon picked off a runner trying to steal second. In the bottom of that inning, the Franklin County girls added four more runs, and after a scoreless third, picked up four more in the fourth.
It was in that fourth inning that Wheeler knocked a two-run double to drive in Swayzee Lane and Paisleigh Taylor. Plus MaKynlee Lane hit a two-run home run.
Monday was a complete washout, but on Tuesday, June 20, the team drove back to Marianna for the 6 p.m. CT championship, as they again faced Blountstown trying to work their way out of the losers bracket.
This time it was a 15-0 shutout, as King and Melvin shared the pitching duties.
The win sent the girls to Odessa for the state championship, which opens Friday, July 7.
To raise money for the trip, the team has had a car wash, and is planning a low country boil this Saturday, July 1 in Eastpoint.
The Angels are also selling raffle tickets, with the winner taking home a trip with Apalachicola Airboat tours, for up to six people, donated by Jonathan Carter. The winner will also get a 9-foot genuine Golden cast net made by James Golden. That drawing is expected to be on July 4 on St. George Island.
To purchase a raffle ticket, call Tanja Wheeler at 850-524-3775.