State Awaits: Hopkins County prevails in Ponytail title game

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor

July 1, 2008 - Hopkins County didn't hit Franklin County pitcher Sarah Johnson very well Monday in the championship game of the Dixie District 8 Ponytails Tournament. But, it turns out, they didn't have to.

Hopkins Countymanaged just a pair of hits against Johnson, but both played into their scoring, in a 5-2 victory at Coleman Park. The win sends Hopkins County on to the state tournament on July 18 in Denison.

Johnson went the distance for Franklin County, striking out 14 in the six-inning contest, but she also walked 14, and that set the table for Hopkins County's offense.

Hopkins County leadoff hitter Kiara Johnson walked twice, had a single to shallow right field and scored three times. The other hit came off a bunt single by Ashley Matthews, who also scored a run. Enlin Mantha plated Hopkins County's other run when Macy Johnston drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning.

The third inning was the most dramatic for Hopkins County. Johnson led off the frame with a walk and went to third when Matthews beat out a bunt down the third-base line. Johnson then got in a rundown between third and home, and scored when the ball got away from Franklin County.

That allowed Matthews to get to third base herself. But, Franklin County turned a nice double play when the next batter, Kasey Moore, hit a ball to third baseman Tiffany Goldsmith. Goldsmith threw to first to get one out, then first baseman Emily Floyd relayed the ball to catcher Courtney Goldsmith in time to tag out Matthews.

Hopkins County held a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth when Franklin County scored twice on a single by Sissy Rogers, a double by Sarah Johnson and an RBI single by Jessie Hines.

Hopkins County responded with a two-run inning of their own in the fifth as Johnson led off with a single and Matthews reached on a fielder's choice. Johnson scored on a passed ball and Taja Evans drove in Matthews with a infield grounder.

That left it up to Hopkins County relief pitcher Katie Sapaugh, who went four innings, striking out seven and allowing four hits and no walks. It appeared Franklin County had scored another run in the fifth inning on C.J. Sparks' RBI single, but the runner was ruled to have left second base too early, negating the run.

Hopkins County starting pitcher Kasey Moore threw two innings, fanning one while giving up one hit and one walk.

Franklin County beat Red River County 11-1 in the semifinal game, which concluded Monday afternoon, to reach the finals.

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