French Settlement at Albany softball Emma Petite

French Settlement High's Emma Petite starts to swing at a pitch.

FRENCH SETTLEMENT – Emma Petite didn’t quite know what to do at the conclusion of Thursday’s Class 2A first-round playoff game.

It’s just the sort of thing that happens when you’ve just knocked in the game-winning run to send your team to the second round of the playoffs.

The throw after Petite’s grounder to short was overthrown at first base, allowing the winning run to score with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, lifting French Settlement to a 4-3 victory over Winnfield.

“When I just got to the bag and it went over, it made me even more excited,” Petite said of her thoughts after making contact with the ball. “I was like, ‘do I go to second?’, and then I noticed (we) scored and the game was over, and I just cheered.”

The end result was the only thing that mattered to FSHS coach Blake West.

“It keeps the dream alive,” said West, whose team will travel to face No. 4 Kinder, a 16-1 winner over No. 29 Welsh, in three innings, in the regional round. “It keeps us going. In the playoffs, a win’s a win. It definitely wasn’t one of prettier wins here this season, (but) I feel like we’ve been playing really good ball here the past couple of weeks.”

After FSHS reliever Jackie Crosby retired Winnfield in order in the top of the seventh, Carmella Tranchina singled to second to lead off the bottom of the inning to start the winning rally.

Winnfield pitcher Haley Chandler (who allowed eight hits and struck out 11) fanned Crosby and Sarah Petite, bringing up Emma Petite, a seventh-grader, who nailed a grounder to short. The throw to first, however, sailed high, allowing courtesy runner Randi Delaneuville to score the winning run.

“I knew I popped it up a couple of times before, so I knew I had to stay level on it, and then when I saw it was kind of a grounder or line drive, I was really excited about getting down the line real fast and not letting them get me out,” Emma Petite said.

FSHS (12-13) rallied to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth after Claire Cullen led off with a single to left, stole second with two outs and scored when Samantha Lewis singled to center. Lewis motored into third when Winnfield struggled to come up with the ball in the outfield, but she was stranded when Payton Clouatre struck out swinging to end the inning.

Winnfield threatened in the top of the first inning after Liz Heard led off with a single and FSHS starter Britney Melton hit Callie Griffin, but Chandler hit a line drive to Clouatre at short, starting a 6-4 double play and Macy Hemphill flied out to right.

FSHS got its first run in the bottom of the first after Crosby got a two-out double and Sarah Petite’s single drove her in. Melton retired Winnfield in order in the top of the second then came through with a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the inning, driving in Cullen, who led off with a single, for a 2-0 lead.

Over the next two innings, Winnfield stranded three runners, and FSHS left five on, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth.

Winnfield broke through in the fifth inning as Melton walked Marissa Hattaway and Kelleigh Blundell to start the inning before Crosby came on in relief.

Heard followed with a grounder to short, but she was safe, loading the bases when Clouatre attempted to get an out at third and the Lady Lions were unable to make the play. That set up Griffin’s double to center, which scored one run. Two more came in when the throw to the plate sailed high as FSHS catcher Tranchina attempted to make the catch.

“On that shot there in the gap, we get the ball in quick,” West said. “We did everything right getting it in. I felt like we would have had the girl there at the plate. The throw sails just a little bit, goes off our catcher, Carmella Tranchina’s, glove. The other girl (WHS runner) was right there on top of her behind her. We would have at least got one at the plate, felt like we maybe even could have got two right there and could have kept a 2-1 lead at that point in the game.”

Melton gave up two hits, three walks and struck out two in four innings, while Crosby gave up one hit and struck out two in three innings.

“Big credit to Britney,” West said. “The past couple of weeks, we have absolutely leaned on her. I don’t know if we’re sitting as good as we are now without Britney. “We made the call to go with Jackie, and the senior stepped in and she threw really, really well – exceptional – the last two innings there. Kept them off the boards and gave us a chance and let our offense work.”                                     

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