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Comet girls lose district semifinal to Franklin County, await region seeding / May 16, 2019
Franklin County created enough offense to defeat the Halifax County High School varsity softball team in the Piedmont District tournament semifinals, 14-12, Wednesday.

The comeback effort by the Eagles sent Franklin to Friday’s championship against Tunstall.

Tunstall defeated Magna Vista, 10-2, in last night’s other district tournament semifinals.

Franklin struck decisively for a seven-run rally in its half of the fifth.

That outburst changed the direction after Halifax bolted to an early lead.

The Comets, now 16-3, wasted little time getting on the board. Katie Cole lofted a difficult to handle RBI fly for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Skyla Strohm delivered a run-scoring hit to get the second run home.

Madison Barnes made it 3-0 on a liner to left center.

The Comets padded the lead on an RBI double from Kaitlin Richardson for an early 4-0 edge. Sydney Wilborn beat out a grounder, and then Richardson scored on a wild pitch.

By then, Halifax led 5-0 and the sixth run scored when Jeri Tyler beat out a grounder. The inning ended with the Comets leading 6-0.

Raegan Ridgeway started in the circle, and the Eagles threatened in their half of the second. But the junior hurler escaped further trouble at that point.

Strohm belted a solo homer over deep center for a 7-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the second.

Franklin’s Courtney Bryant delivered a two-run blast off Ridgeway over left field to cut the Comet lead to 7-2 in the top of the third.

Franklin later put runners on first and second with one out, forcing a pitching change in the third. Head coach Woody Bane inserted Lauryn Chappell, who walked a batter to load the sacks. Alex Prillaman socked a two-run double off the Halifax reliever.

Lynia Reed caught a pop fly for the second out, but Caitlyn Craghead got another run home on a well-placed RBI grounder.

Chappell finally snagged a infield liner for the final out. Still Franklin had made this more competitive, trailing 7-5 heading into the Comet third.

Chappell got Wilborn home on a direct shot to the shortstop position.

Franklin County head coach Bryan Forbes disputed the call, but the umpires ruled for the Comets. That decision extended the Halifax lead to 8-5 in the bottom of the third.

Barnes later added a run-scoring sacrifice fly to pad the Comet margin to 9-5 in the bottom of the fourth.

Halifax continued to struggle on defense. The Eagles loaded the bases with no one out in the top of the fifth.

Chappell walked in a run, and Bane turned to a third Comet reliever, Barnes.

Barnes lost another Eagle on a walk, allowing the visitors to cut the lead to 9-7. From there, Lauryn Paisley cracked a bases-clearing double, giving the Eagles their first lead on the day. C. Bryant later made it 11-9 on a well-hit RBI double.

Franklin later extended its lead to 12-9 on a Presley Washburn RBI before the uprising finally ended.

The Eagles added another run on a close play at the plate in their half of the sixth.

Franklin padded its lead to 14-9 after the top of the seventh.

It got a little crazy in the Comet seventh.

Halifax threatened in its last trip to the plate, getting two on with no one out. Sidney Wilborn had an RBI double to get the tenth run home for Halifax in its final chance.

At that point, Jeri Tyler smacked another RBI hit to make it 14-11.

Chappell added an RBI groundout to get the Comets within two.

But the game ended on a fly ball out.

The hotly contested district tournament semifinals represented the end of Piedmont District rivalry action between the Eagles and Comets. Next spring, FCHS moves to the Blue Ridge district.

Despite the loss, Halifax gets a clean slate next week as the regionals begin. The loss to the Eagles does not impact the postseason road from here. However, the Comets missed their shot to play for the district tournament title.

Halifax also secured a no. 1 seed in the south bracket of the regionals. Halifax gets a first-round regional bye and will be at home through the finals if the Comets continue to win in that round of the postseason.

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