Hard-hitting lineup helps Franklin Regional have softball season to remember

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Saturday, June 3, 2023 | 11:01 AM


The crack of the bat and the swell of crowd noise was a regular thing for the Franklin Regional softball team this season.

The Panthers connected on 30 home runs, making them one of the most threatening long-bombing teams in WPIAL Class 5A.

But they fell short in the playoffs, running into a hot — and undefeated — Shaler team in the quarterfinals.

It was the second-seeded Titans who hit a pair of home runs in a 7-0 win that ended the Panthers’ season at 12-7.

Senior pitcher Carli Ramchandran suffered a knee injury in a 10-2 first-round win over Moon and had to shut down for the remainder of the season.

The Panthers missed her against Shaler.

“It’s sad to see it end for our (six) seniors,” coach Jim Armstrong said. “This was the covid class. They only got to play three years. They owned this loss. It’s not life or death. They had a good season.”

Armstrong was disappointed his team could not get a third shot at an opponent that shares his name — the Armstrong River Hawks.

Seventh-seeded Franklin Regional lost both section matchups to the No. 1 River Hawks, by scores of 4-3 and 6-4 in eight innings.

“We gave them a game both times,” coach Armstrong said.

“We were curious to see how we would do if we saw them again. I think we had a really good chance to beat them, I really do.”

The top home-run hitters were Alexa Patberg (9 HRs), sophomore Toryn Fulton (8) and senior Madison Nguyen (7).

“Alexa really came on this season,” Armstrong said. “I didn’t expect her to hit nine homers.”

Armstrong will lose six starters with the departure of those seniors. The others are Sydney Jackson, Tait Ramchandran and Mackenzie Woehler.

“I am super-proud of the girls,” Armstrong said. “We didn’t end up where we wanted, but they played well and didn’t give up.”

Armstrong gathered with his girls for a pregame prayer before the quarterfinal.

He also huddled with them after the tough loss.

“I told them I loved them,” the coach said. “Because I do.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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