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Barnes carries Lady Comets over Franklin County / April 18, 2013
Halifax County righthander Taylor Barnes let her teammates share in the glow illuminating from the complete-game pitching gem she threw at Franklin County Tuesday.

Barnes limited the Eagles to three hits and was the beneficiary of a stout defense in a 3-0 Western Valley District shut-out triumph by the Comets.

Halifax (2-0 in the WVD, 8-1 overall), which seeks its fourth straight district championship in the curtain-call softball campaign for the WVD, tallied single runs in the first, third and fifth innings, while limiting Franklin County (1-1 in the WVD, 6-4 overall) to six baserunners over seven frames.

Barnes played a part in 12 of the 21 outs the Comets recorded in the victory. She struck out four and started eight other putout by fielding grounders hit back to her.

“Taylor has been pitching for a long time and she and Ashley (catcher Ashley Watts) are really working well together. They’re recognizing where (the hitters) are in the (batter’s) box and where the ball needs to be put to get us ground balls or pop flies,’’ Halifax dugout boss Melanie Saunders said.

“Taylor is working different pitches. With her catcher, she was able to move the ball around (the plate) and keep (Franklin County’s hitters) off balance,’’ Saunders said.

Halifax committed just one defensive blunder, a miscue by shortstop Cecilie Elliott in the bottom of the seventh that helped the Eagles create a final-frame rally.

The Eagles would load the bases with no outs courtesy of a base hit by sophomore Ashley Keith before Barnes would coax FCHS pitcher Hali Saul to hit into a rally-killing double play crafted by Barnes, Watts and first baseman Cori Campbell.

“Taylor knows how to work the plate. The double play in the seventh really helped us calm down the momentum that Franklin County had with the bases loaded and no outs,’’ Saunders said.

Barnes retired the first 11 batters she faced before Eagles sophomore catcher Mackenzie Chitwood put an end to her bids for a perfect game and a no-hitter with a base hit to centerfield.

Franklin County would collect its second hit when Becky France led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to right field, but then Barnes would retire Keith, Saul and Hannah Dudley in succession. Saul was robbed of hit when Elliott dove in the hole near base and snagged a line drive.

“I thought that was the game-changing play,’’ Eagles head coach Bryan Forbes said. “Without that, we have runners at first and second and (one out). The shortstop made a great play. That’s what good teams do.’’

The Comets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Miyana Ross doubled with one out and scored on a two-out double by second baseman Meg Bane.

In the third, a bunt single by Taylor Mosley, a fielder’s choice, and a two-out RBI single by Bane, Halifax’s clean-up hitter who was 2 of 3 at the plate, put the Comets ahead 2-0.

In the fifth, Halifax loaded the bases with no outs and the bases full with one out, but was only able to produce one run.

Elliott, Mosely and Ross registered consecutive base hits off of Saul, who absorbed the loss despite a complete-game showing, before Megan Puckett drove in the run with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

After Saul walked Bane, she struck out Barnes, then coaxed Kye’Neisha Logan to hit a fly ball that was caught in foul territory by third baseman Sierra Naff.

Halifax placed runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but failed to score.

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