Franco mows down the competition|[06/07/08]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2008

With the graduation of last year’s Vicksburg Post Player of the Year in Sarah Kerut, a bigger burden of St. Aloysius success this spring in fast-pitch softball fell on the shoulders on another Sarah, junior pitcher Sarah Franco.

With five no-hitters, a perfect game and several multiple strikeout games, Franco filled a big void and helped lead the Lady Flashes back to the Class 1A playoffs and with it earns the 2008 Vicksburg Post Player of the Year honor.

“I think we did better than we’ve done in the past,” Franco said. “I was disappointed we didn’t go further in the playoffs.

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“Yeah, I think we did miss Sarah Kerut. She was always there to give us that kind of pep talk we needed. She was a really good leader and a big part of our offense and it was one of the strongest ones we had.”

St. Al went 15-7 in 2007 with Franco and Kerut splitting up the pitching duties. In 2008, Franco had to do almost all of it herself. She finished 11-3 with a 0.89 ERA with an outstanding 162 strikeouts. The Lady Flashes finished 12-7 and won one game in the 1A playoffs against Bogue Chitto.

“I really believe Sarah deserves this because I don’t know where we would’ve been without her,” St. Al coach Gene Rogillio said.

Franco said she brought a different mind-set to the pitching circle this year. All-County teamIt paid off in a hot early start where she began racking up no-hitters, including one perfect game.

“My temper has gotten a lot better,” said Franco, who began pitching in her eighth grade year with her older sister, Mary Myers, behind the plate. “I don’t get as nervous as I used to. My mental attitude is better.”

It helped her developed another pitch.

“My change-up was working a lot better this year.I didn’t have to rely on just a fastball,” she said.

The new attitude also helped her at the plate where she batted .352 with 17 runs scored in the leadoff spot.

“It was better than it has been,” Franco said with a laugh. “I was leadoff the whole year and I think the coaches relied on me to get on base because of my speed. That’s why I looked a lot of times for either a walk or a bunt.”

While she had many highlights in the pitching circle, she can’t really pick a game.

“Can’t remember, maybe one of the district games. My dad (Tony) remembers every pitch of every game. The district wins were crucial because that got us into the playoffs.

The losses were easier to remember.

“Losing to Stringer by more points than we beat them at their place. And Bogue Chitto, that was horrible.”