Softball playoffs: Friendswood rallies for 7-6 win over Manvel
SANTA FE - When it appeared Friendswood’s playoff ride might be a washout, Haven Franks stemmed the tide for the Lady Mustangs Wednesday night.
Franks, a playoff-seasoned junior, allowed no earned runs in relief in the final 3 2/3 innings, and the Friendswood offense untracked itself in the fourth and fifth innings as the Lady Mustangs rallied for a 7-6 win a one-game playoff against Manvel in a Class 5A area matchup.
Friendswood (24-4) trailed 4-0 after three innings and 6-3 through four freames prior to a four-run fifth inning which propelled the Lady Mustangs to the next round where they will face either Barbers Hill or Richmond Foster.
Franks, who has been Friendswood’s No. 2 pitcher most of the year behind freshman Chloe Riassetto, entered the game in the third inning and didn’t flinch her entire stint in silencing the Lady Maverick bats.
“I just told myself to slow the game down in my head,” said Franks, a junior. “As long as I stayed in the zone, I was just going to trust my abilities to do what I know how to do.
“Before every pitch I would tell myself just to hit a certain spot. I truly believe in a pitching staff, and Chloe has done an awesome job coming in as a freshman. Coach (Christa Yates) has always told us it’s a team effort, and I just wanted to do my part.”
Yates couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“(Franks) was amazing,” Yates said. “The one thing about Haven is that she’s a competitor, and she’s the one that has playoff experience for me.
“To see her come in tonight and not skip a beat…and it’s not like she’s thrown a ton of innings for me. But when she has come in, she’s been lights out. I was super proud for her tonight. She earned it.”
Down 6-3 in the top of the fifth, Friendswood’s game-winning rally began with one-out singles to left by shortstop Tricia Yarotsky and Caylynn Esparza. After both runners moved into scoring position with stolen bases, Lady Mustang Elizabeth Higgins singled to left field for a 6-4 score.
Riassetto then walked to load the bases, and Friendswood first baseman Bayleigh Lay was then hit by a pitch to force in another run to pull the Lady Mustangs within 6-5.
Lauren Adams then hit a fly to right field for the second out, but it was deep enough to bring home the tying run.
Friendswood then took its only lead of the game when Reagan Jones flared an opposite-field single to left to make it 7-6.
Maddie Wilson walked to reload the bases, but Amani Adi hit into a close 5-3 putout to end the inning.
Friendswood, which sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth, first had success against Manvel pitcher Addison Greak in the fourth inning.
The Lady Mustangs loaded the bases with one out on a walk to Esparza, a single by Higgins and a fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Riassetto.
Lay then sliced a double down the left-field line for a single, but an error ensued, allowing Friendswood to score two runs to pull the Lady Mustangs within 4-2.
An Adams ground out to second base brought home Friendswood’s third run of the inning. Following a walk to Jones, Greak managed to avoid further damage when she retired Wilson on a line drive to center.
Manvel scored twice in the first inning on a single by Haley Ratcliff, a fielder’s choice by Brianna Garcia, and Riley Bennett’s single to right field.
The Lady Mavericks stretched their advantage to 4-0 in the second when Brittany Hood reached on an error, Nicole Blaise walked, a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position, and Payton Wilsey drove them in with a single to center.
Manvel’s final two runs scored in the fourth after it loaded the bases on an error, a single by Ratcliff, a walk to Wilsey and Garcia’s high-chopping single to right over a drawn-in infield for a 6-3 score.
After that, Franks controlled the game. She faced no more than four batters in any of the final three innings and struck out six during that time.
“They’re a good-hitting team,” Manvel head coach Skip Dunham said. “We knew they would score runs, and we knew we had to score runs.
“We played hard and fought hard. We gave it what we had and came up short.”
Greak, who went all seven innings for Manvel, was strong early, but didn’t have her normal velocity in the closing innings.
“She definitely faded, but she’s been dealing with a little shoulder problem,” Dunham said. “We just had to adjust. Addie’s been great for us. I have another pitcher, but I wasn’t quite ready to make that move.
“We have the defense behind her, and we played pretty well, defensively, tonight. We really started strong, but our offense kind of sputtered at the end. We’re a really young team, but we grew a lot tonight. For the most part, Friendswood just hit the ball hard and scored runs.”
The Lady Mustangswon for the 21st time in their last 22 outings, but had to rally late for wins in each one-game playoff.
“We do just enough to get by,” Yates said. “You just do what you can to survive and move on.”