Debs advance to state championship game
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

July 20, 2004 - A state semifinal Dixie Debs game that started as a slugfest Monday night ended up in a pitching duel.

Hopkins County used a five-run fifth-inning and a six-out save by southpaw Holly Franks to take an 11-8 victory over Franklin County and advance to the state championship game tonight.

Hopkins County, the only unbeaten team left in the tournament, is scheduled to face Liberty, a team they defeated 10-1 on Sunday, in the final game at 6 p.m. tonight at Coleman Park. If Liberty wins, the teams will play again on Wednesday night. If Hopkins County wins either of the games, they will advance to the Dixie Debs World Series (ages 16-18) at Jackson, Tenn., beginning July 30.

Hopkins County had won their first three games by a cumulative score of 44-5, but they fell behind in the first inning on Monday and trailed until the decisive fifth inning finally gave them a lead.

Even with a three-run advantage heading into the bottom of the sixth, Hopkins County put their fans on edge when Franklin loaded the bases with no outs by sandwiching a walk around a pair of infield errors. Franks, though, struck out the next two batters she faced on seven pitches, then induced a come-backer to the mound to get out of the inning unscathed. She then retired the side in order in the seventh.

The loss eliminated Franklin County, who had suffered an earlier loss to Liberty.

Franklin took a 5-2 lead in the first inning against Hopkins County.

Hopkins, batting in the visitors half of the inning, got off to a 2-0 lead as Jennifer Moreland singled and NeNe Hynson drove her in with a double to left. Shaunda Box then singled to score Hynson. Moreland finished 3-for-5, Hynson 2-for-4, and Box 3-for-4 to anchor the middle of the order.

Franklin, though, came back with five runs in their half of the inning with consecutive RBI hits by Jennifer Anderson, Robbie Turner and Jaclyn Herrera and a two-run double from Tiffani Stuart.

Both teams added a pair of runs in the third. Moreland again started the rally with another opposite-field single and Hynson drove her in with a single. Kaneisha Johnson then tripled home another run with a long drive to the right field gap.

Hopkins added a pair of runs in the fifth to draw to within 7-6. Holly Franks beat out an infield single to start the inning. Then her sister, Angela (who pitched the middle two innings), doubled her home, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Amanda Haygood's grounder. The Franks sisters combined to go 4-for-7 with four RBIs.

The break-out inning came in the fifth, when Hopkins sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring five runs on four hits, a walk and two errors. The big blows were an RBI ground-rule double by Box, an RBI single by Holly Franks, a two-run single from Angela Franks, and an RBI grounder by Haygood.

Franklin added its last run in the bottom of the frame as Malori Pollan walked and scored on Chelsea Key's RBI single. But, they left two runners stranded that inning and the bases loaded in the fateful sixth.

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