Tommi Franklin and Lizzy Swindell powered the Houston softball team to a district-opening victory.
Franklin homered to spark a 10-run fifth inning and Swindell hit a grand slam during the rally as the Lady Tigers beat Liberty 16-6 Wednesday in the opening round of the Class 2 District 8 tournament.
“That’s what these girls can do,” HHS coach Brent Hall said. “They’ve hit the ball really well at times this year. They are capable of putting up a lot of runs in a short amount of time.”
Houston (12-12) advances to face top-seeded East Carter at 4 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals. Willow Springs, which beat Alton 16-0 in the other opening-round game, plays No. 2 Neelyville at 6 p.m.
Franklin and Tori McCloud had three hits apiece for HHS. Swindell had four RBIs, Autumn Walker knocked home three runs and Franklin and freshman Taylor Chipps added two RBIs apiece.
Houston, which didn’t hit a home run during the regular season, used the long ball to put Liberty away.
Franklin jumpstarted the 10-run fifth inning with a long fly ball over the left-field fence with one out. Chipps had a two-run single during the rally and Autumn Walker singled home a run to put HHS ahead 11-6.
After Olivia Woosley was hit by a pitch – the 10th time this season – to load the bases, Swindell drilled a high fastball to left field for a grand slam to make it 15-6. McCloud ended the game with a RBI single to score Franklin.
“Tommi’s homer was the momentum changer,” Hall said. “It changed the complexion of everything, and we started rolling.
“We’ve been very explosive at times, which is good. We can get behind and know we can come back with our bats.”
The Lady Tigers won despite struggling early.
Fifth-seeded Liberty took advantage of five walks to build a 4-0 lead after two innings. Houston scored four times in the third – highlighted by RBI singles from Woosley and Franklin – to pull even at 4-all.
Three more walks and a hit batter allowed the Lady Eagles to go ahead 6-4. Houston again pulled even as Kaitlyn Root and Chipps both reached and scored in the fourth to make it 6-6.
Elmore pitched all five innings for the complete-game victory. She gave one hit while striking out three and walking eight.
“Kylee has done a great job, especially the last part of the season,” Hall said. “She struggled a little today, but she found it when she had to. If she can be even more consistent tomorrow, we’ll have a chance.”
HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Autumn Walker 2b 4-1-2-3. Olivia Woosley ss 3-2-1-1. Lizzy Swindell 1b 4-2-1-4. Tommi Franklin 3b 4-2-3-2. Abbey Slocum rf 3-1-0-0. Tori McCloud cf 4-1-3-1. Stephani Crewse c 2-2-0-0. Kaitlyn Root lf 2-3-0-1. Taylor Chipps dp 3-2-2-2. Totals 29-16-13-12.
2B: Chipps HR: Swindell, Franklin.
Winning pitcher: Elmore.
Houston 16, Liberty 6 (5 inn.)
Willow Springs 16, Alton 0 (3 inn.)
(1) East Carter vs. (4) Houston, 4 p.m.
(2) Neelyville vs. (3) Willow Springs, 6 p.m.
Championship, 5 p.m.