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Comets lose 1-0 heartbreaker to Franklin County

All the Halifax County High School varsity softball team needed was one more hit - maybe two - at just the right moment.

Five potential scoring opportunities went by the wayside for the Comets and Franklin County High School escaped with a 1-0 win in Friday night's Western Valley District game at Halifax County High School.

"The difference is that they (Franklin County High School) got the hit with the runner in scoring position and were able to score," explained Comets Head Coach Melanie Saunders.

"We had runners in scoring position five times and couldn't score. We couldn't get the hit. You've got to squeak at least one of those through there. If you have runners in scoring position only once and don't get a hit through that's one thing. But, when you get runners in scoring position five times somebody has got to come through and get that hit for you and that run. We just couldn't get that hit today."

Friday night's game had all of the trappings of a district championship contest. A win by the Comets would have given them a big leg up in the chase for the Western Valley District regular-season championship with two wins over their biggest challenger for the district title.

The loss now puts the Comets in a tie with Franklin County High School at the top of the district standings.

"We told our girls to have fun and relax," Franklin County High School Head Coach Bryan Forbes said.

"The pressure was on Halifax. They had come to our place and won, and we felt like the pressure was on them because they are the defending district champion and this was their home field and they needed to defend it. So, we just relaxed and had fun."

The game was a solid one on the part of both teams.

Comets pitcher Taylor Barnes had an outstanding night, striking out 11 Franklin County High School batters including five of the first six Eagles batters she faced.

She yielded only one walk and two hits. Those two hits, though, we're the difference in the game.

"I was feeling good until she (Franklin County High School 's Ashley Keith) got the second hit," Barnes said.

"But, I figured we could come back and get them. Today just wasn't our day."

Both of Franklin County High School's hits came in the top of the fifth inning. Taylor Greenway led off the inning with a hit, moved to second base when Kameron Cundiff grounded out to first base and scored on a single from Keith. The Comets got out of the inning when pitcher Hali Saul hit into a double play.

By that time, the Comets had stranded a runner at second base in the first inning and had left the bases loaded in the second inning without scoring after having had runners on third base twice in the inning. And, they weren't finished.

Ashley Watts got on base for the Comets with a walk to start the bottom of the fifth inning, and was on third base with two out, only to be left stranded on the base. The Comets' Meg Bane reached base on a Franklin County High School error to start the bottom of the sixth inning, made her way to third base, and like Watts, was stranded there.

Franklin County High School was just as impressive as the Comets. Saul fanned two Comets batters, yielded three walks and allowed two hits, one to both Cori Campbell and Watts in the second inning when the Comets managed to load the bases.

The Eagles' defense committed two errors. The Comets committed one.

"My pitcher did a great job " Forbes said of Saul.

"To keep a great team like Halifax County from scoring in a game says a lot. Our dense played well. We did everything we had to do to win and beat a very good team. I didn't see it as a district championship (game), but I did see it as a chance for us to get back a little bit of our pride."