One streak had to end when Franklin North came to town to face the Warren County Middle School softball team Monday. The Lady Gators were undefeated in Central Tennessee Conference play, while the Lady Pioneers had won 10 straight.
Madison Hollis made sure Warren County continued its domination. Hollis threw a four-hit shutout and added an RBI as the Lady Pioneers downed Franklin North 4-0 on their home field.
“Madison controlled the ball and hit her spots well,” said Warren County coach Joe Damon. “We had a couple errors, but also made some plays defensively that took away hits. Our defense needs to continue to play lights out through our last games and the tournament.”
Hollis was her usual dominant self, mixing in power to match her precision to keep the Lady Gators off balance. The shutout was her second this season, improving her overall record to a perfect 7-0.
Warren County (13-1) broke through in the second inning, thanks in large part to the quick thinking of Danika Reno.
Reno battled off two potential strike threes before slapping a single into left field. She moved to second on a sacrifice by Bella Cantrell, then took advantage of a napping defense to get closer.
Reno pulled off a delayed steal of third, watching two quick throws back to the pitcher before she had retreated from her lead at second. On the third throw back, Reno took off for third, swiping the bag without a throw. Her hustle was rewarded when Shelby Roberts roped a two-out single into left field, making it 1-0.
In was part of a two-hit night for Roberts, who Damon credited with setting the table for the Lady Pioneer offense.
“Shelby had a huge night offensively. She did what a lead-off batter should do, she got on base and scored,” said Damon.
Juju Pyburn continued to keep the offense rolling in the third, piping a shot to the fence in right for a triple. Halo Armstrong followed with a single, giving the Lady Pioneers a 2-0 lead.
Hollis gave up a lead-off double to start the fourth, with the runner moving to third on a sac fly on the next pitch. Hollis buckled down with a runner 60 feet from scoring, striking out the next batter on three pitches before forcing a comebacker she fielded and threw to first to keep Franklin North off the board.
Warren County added some cushion to its lead in the fourth, getting back-to-back singles from Mea Starkey and Roberts to put runners on the corners with one out. Hollis helped her own cause with an RBI groundout, hitting behind the runners to second to score Starkey.
Pyburn followed with a single of her own, allowing Roberts to fly around from second to push the lead to 4-0.
The clutch hitting was a boon on a night when Warren County struggled to have a breakout inning it had become accustom to this season.
“Madison, Juju and Halo all hit the ball well, but we didn’t string hits together and left a lot of runners on base,” said Damon. “We’ll have to execute a little better to get the ball in play when we have runners in scoring position.”
Hollis closed the game with back-to-back fielder’s choices after allowing a single and walk.
Warren County made the return trip to Franklin North Tuesday night, with the game deciding the CTC regular season champion. The result was unavailable at press time. Check Friday’s Standard for more details.