FORT COVINGTON – Franklin Academy faced a tall task in the bottom of the seventh inning against Massena during the Section 10 Class A softball championship.

Down 12-6 with the title on the line, things looked pretty grim for the Huskies. It seemed like the game was over.

Well, not quite.

Madison Klepfer took a walk on the first at-bat of the frame, and a bunt advanced her to third – one out. Senior pitcher Ryleigh McCauley stepped up to the plate next and promptly smacked a double to center field to plate two runs and cut it 12-7.

Mckenzie Lane doubled in McCaulay, Alanna Dumas doubled in Lane and Dumas made a sliding dive home to bring Franklin Academy within two runs. The late effort ended there, and the Red Raiders won the Class A title, 12-10 on Friday.

“We worked hard and it is what it is, how it turned out,” Dumas said.

During the Section 10 awards presentation following the game, Dumas was the lone player to win Second-Team All-NAC.

“I wasn’t really expecting it, but it’s nice,” Dumas said of the honor. “I work hard every game, so it’s good to get some recognition for that, you know?”

The championship game featured a pitching battle that let the stat line speak for itself. Through five innings, McCauley and Reed both had eight strikeouts thrown and four walks allowed. McCauley gave up 10 hits, while Reed let up three.

“I know (Reed is) a very good pitcher and she’s one of, if not my best competition, and I wish her the best,” McCauley said. “She did great. I just wanted to do my personal best because in my head, I knew it could be my last game and it was unfortunately.”

Reed threw three strikeouts in the second inning, while McCauley struck out three batters in the third immediately after.

It was a dance on the mound.

“It was phenomenal. I mean, they did an outstanding job, both pitchers,” Huskies coach Terry Collins said. “I don’t think Ryleigh could’ve pitched any better than what she did. She did an outstanding job. A few miscues cost us and a little late on the hitting, but they fought hard. It was a tough battle.”

Through all seven innings, McCauley finished with 13 strikeouts, four walks and 17 hits allowed. Reed had 11 strikeouts, six walks and six hits allowed.

With McCauley graduating, she passes the torch to Lane. Lane pitched the previous two Massena games and threw a no-hitter earlier in the season.

“I had so much fun and the friendships I made were great. They’re family, and I wish Mackenzie the best of luck next year. I know she’s gonna do great things,” McCauley said. “I’m just really proud of everybody for fighting so hard. We came back in the end.”

Jalyn Cook scored the first run of the game for the Red Raiders (12-3) in the top of the first. After McCauley hit a two RBI triple on a 2-2 pitch to retake the lead in the bottom of the frame, Cook came back at the top of the order to wreak havoc for the Huskies (11-4).

Cook matched McCauley’s two RBI triple, and she was then batted in after to retake a 4-2 lead.

“(Cook is) phenomenal. When she’s on the bases, she’s watching what’s happening next. She reads it really well to know when nobody’s covering a base,” Red Raiders coach Susan Macaulay said. “She takes advantage of that, and she did that in the first inning. She moved herself into scoring position and came home on that.”

Reed had an RBI to close out Massena’s strong second inning.

The Huskies found their first bout of momentum in the bottom of the third when a walk for McCauley loaded the bases. Lane hit a single with no outs, and an error at third base brought home two more Franklin Academy runners. Lane then plated a run for the fourth lead change of the game.

A two RBI double from Ainsley Cromie, an RBI and run from Cook, Elizabeth Rogers run on a wild pitch, RBI triple for Isabelle Wilson and RBI for Delaney Durant launched the Red Raiders ahead through the sixth and seventh innings.

Massena pulled out of the jam before, and by the bottom of the seventh, Macauley knew what her team needed to do.

“I kept telling the girls one out at a time. The runs mean nothing right now, we had quite a cushion there going into the last inning,” Macauley said of the Huskies’ four unanswered runs. “A couple doubles back-to-back, we just wanted to keep it from materializing down the line and they did it. They came through when they needed to come through and settled in nicely.”

The Red Raiders will now move on to the Overall Section 10 softball semifinals.

“I think my seniors didn’t want to go down without a fight. It was their last senior game, and some of these kids I’ve actually coached for six years so it was tough for them,” Collins said. “It was tough for all of us.”

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