When the stars come out|County standouts Franco, Fuller head to all-star game

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 19, 2009

For most of their young lives, Sarah Franco and Mandy Fuller have passed by each other in the softball world.

On dozens of tournament teams, in the pages of the newspaper, sometimes as teammates and sometimes as rivals. It’s been a friendly relationship, and on Saturday it’ll come to a close.

Both players will participate in their final high school softball game, the Mississippi Association of Coaches fast-pitch all-star game at Newton County High School. Franco, St. Aloysius’ star pitcher and the 2008 Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, will play for the South team in the Class 1A-2A-3A game. Fuller, a catcher for Warren Central, will play for the North in the Class 4A-5A game.

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“We grew up playing softball together. If it wasn’t on the same team, we played against each other since the time we were 7 or 8 years old until we were 15,” Franco said. “We’re riding to the game together.”

There’s a chance this could be Franco’s last competitive softball game. In four seasons as St. Al’s primary pitcher, the right-hander went 39-21. She had a whopping 604 strikeouts and only walked 93 batters.

Despite that dominance, Franco isn’t sure if she wants to play college ball. Hinds Community College has talked to her about playing, she said, but the heavy commitment it would take to balance a college courseload and college athletics isn’t something she’s sure she wants to tackle.

“It would be fun, but it’s a big commitment and it would be my life. I don’t know if I want to make that commitment,” Franco said.

Franco added that she’s still not taking the all-star game lightly.

“Hopefully I’ll do good because it’s my last game. I want to go out with a bang. I’m not going to go into it like this game doesn’t matter,” she said.

Fuller will play in college after signing with Gulf Coast Community College. There, she’ll team up with one older sister, Tiffany, and follow in the footsteps of another, Brittany, who played at William Carey.

“I’ve always been the baby of everything. I’m kind of glad to be moving on to bigger and better things,” Mandy Fuller said.

The youngest Fuller has hardly lived in the shadow of her older siblings when it comes to softball.

She hit .363 over the past three seasons, with seven homers and 16 doubles, helping Warren Central reach the Class 5A playoffs and a Division 4-5A title this year. Fuller has already proved she belongs on the all-star team with her level of play the past few seasons, but she said she felt she still had something to prove on Saturday.

“I’m supposed to be one of the best in the state and I want to prove to the coaches that they didn’t make a mistake picking me,” Fuller said.


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com