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Ferman slugs home run, throws 3-hitter

By John Estridge, Sports Editor

From the early pre-season practices through now, Franklin County softball coach Alex McCool has been emphasizing situational hitting.

An example is with two strikes, batters should shorten their respective swings, aiming to foul off pitches until they either walk or find one they can drive. Another emphasis along this line is the 3-1 count. McCool has told his batters to look for their pitch. If their pitch is not given in this situation, they should lay off of it. However, if the pitcher delivers the batter's pitch, then the batter is to drive it.

Apparently, freshman Michaela Ferman listens to her coach.

She found herself in that situation in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday night, April 5, against visiting Northeastern. With one out, sophomore shortstop Camryn Brewer reached first on a walk. She stole second. One out later, with the count 3-1, Ferman turned on a pitch and sent the ball well beyond the left center field fence, scoring Brewer before her.

It put the Lady Wildcats in the lead, 2-1, and the game finished with the same score a half inning later.

“K.K. (Ferman's nickname) knows where her spot is, and she got one she liked 3-1 and was able to tattoo it,” McCool said. “She hit the ball well on that.”

Ferman also pitched a three hitter allowing just one unearned run.

“K.K. came out, and she pretty much carried us today: hitting wise and pitching wise,” McCool said.

The fourth-inning error from the inning's leadoff hitter's bat was the only error of the game for the Wildcats.

“Tonight, I told them we did a lot better job of fielding and making the plays,” McCool said. “That one batter gets on by error.”

Two outs later, sophomore first baseman Jesseca Burns hit an RBI single up the middle.

“That one, the runner gets on by error and (Ferman) misses one spot,” McCool said. “That could be the difference between a win and a loss. It was supposed to be high and outside and it was belt level, where (the batter) likes it. And she hit right out to the outfield. But that was her only mistake. She pitched a very good game.”

While Ferman's hitting theatrics were in the bottom of the sixth, the visiting Knights had one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the seventh. With one out, Burns again pounded a single up the middle. An out later, Ferman walked sophomore Ava Burns on four pitches putting runners at first and second with two out. That caused McCool to visit the mound.

“I told her (Ferman) the hitter that was coming up was behind her every at bat before that, and she just needed to attack her,” McCool said. “Number one, she hadn't hit the ball yet. She bunted both times. She hadn't touched (Ferman) when she swung the bat. I told her to relax and pound the zone.”

Ferman struck her out to end the game.

FC was limited to two hits on the game. Brewer hit a first-inning single to left.

The Knight pitcher, senior Lena Smith, was slower than the Wildcats like the opposing pitchers to be, McCool said.

“The last two years I've been here we've really struggled hitting the slower pitchers than what they prefer,” McCool said. “I wouldn't say she was that slow: She was still throwing low 50s, but that's slower than what they prefer. They prefer middle to upper 50s.

“Sometimes, with the pitchers that throw it slower, they have more movement,” he continued. “She had a pretty good drop ball. When she got ahead, she'd throw that drop ball. And a drop ball is pretty hard to hit when it does what it's supposed to. Hers was dropping a few inches, and that was pretty tough to hit.”

However, McCool said the players were making better contact later in the game.

“You could tell the last couple of bats we were waiting back longer,” McCool said. “The first few innings we were either way out in front striking out or hitting weak grounders in the infield. We also had a couple of line drives that were just at them.”

Ferman had 11 strikeouts and allowed one walk while Smith finished with two strikeouts and two walks. Northeastern fell to 0-2. However, after that game the Knights won two out of three for a 2-3 record. The Wildcats improved to 3-1. FC won its game on Saturday to go to 4-1.