By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
Someone was going to walk out of the Calvary Baptist victory celebration with the game ball Saturday afternoon at the Lady Cavs softball complex. Who would it be after Calvary narrowly defeated Central Catholic 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the Division IV playoffs?
Would it be Kelsey Coburn, who put down a bunt in the bottom of the seventh inning and induced a two-base error to score pinch runner Maggie Moore from second base?
Perhaps it would be Mary Grace Woodle, who opened the bottom of the seventh inning, grounded to shortstop and induced a two-base error to put the winning run in scoring position?
Or, maybe Kynzee Anderson, the eighth grader who pitched the complete-game shutout, giving up just three hits and striking out four?
You could make a good case for any of those three to walk out of the victory celebration with the game ball. That’s not who really deserved the game ball, however.
In the play of the game, freshman left fielder Elena Franks made an incredible catch at the wall with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to keep the Lady Eagles from starting a rally.
“That player (Amaya Williams) is a fast runner,” Calvary coach Tiffany Wood said of the Central Catholic hitter. “If that ball falls, it’s a double, at least, and a huge momentum changer. Instead, it was a momentum changer for us. That defensive play won the game.”
With the victory, No. 2-seed Calvary (22-12) advances to the state tournament in Broussard to defend its Division IV state championship. The Lady Cavs will face No. 3 seed Riverside Academy in the semifinals on Friday. In the other semifinal, top-seeded Opelousas Catholic will play No. 4 St. John.
“It went a lot like we expected,” Wood said of Saturday’s quarterfinal victory. “They have five seniors, and we knew their pitcher was really good. We knew it was going to be a close game.”
Indeed, it was. Central Catholic (15-11) senior Hallie Crappell lived up to expectations, giving up just two hits and striking out five in the complete-game loss. Both hits were singles by Calvary second baseman D.J. Lynch. The Lady Eagles’ hits also came on singles – two from Shelbie Mabile and one from Gracie Pintado.
The Cavs threatened in the bottom of the second inning. After a walk and an error put runners at second and third, Woodle was thrown out at home trying to score on a fielder’s choice. Crappell struck out Mallory Carver to end the threat.
Central Catholic had runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the fourth, but Anderson was able to induce one of her nine groundouts on the day to stop the Lady Eagles’ threat.
It was apparent a big play was going to decide the evenly-played matchup. Franks just didn’t realize it would be her big play.
“I didn’t expect it to come to me because everything was going to the right,” said Franks. “When I saw it, I started running. The wind caught it a little bit. I saw the fence out of my periphery and went to the ground to keep from hitting it. I’ve never really made a catch like that – so close to the fence.”
The spectacular running catch was all the Cavs needed to get them going in the bottom of the seventh.
“I never really yell, ‘Let’s go,’” said the usually quiet Franks. “But it was an exciting play and I got really excited. It fired us up.”
So, was the game ball Franks was holding after the victory really the ball she caught on the spectacular play?
“I don’t think it’s the actual ball,” Franks said with a smile. “But it’s the game ball.”
Photos by JOHN PENROD