A total of four “Z’s” are on the Franklin Community High School softball roster courtesy of the surnames of three players and the head coach.
Chalk it up as an accidental case of false advertising. After all, this 26-game odyssey of a season has been anything but a snoozer for the Grizzly Cubs and their supporters.
Franklin puts its 17-9 record on the line this evening when it takes the field for its first regional game in 15 years and first ever as a Class 4A program. The Cubs host Bloomington South, with the first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.
The winner advances to Saturday’s semistate at Center Grove.
Producing a sectional title made for a trio of memorable days, Franklin downing three very good opponents in Whiteland, eighth-ranked Franklin Central and No. 5 New Palestine to get to this point.
“These kids hear all year how tough our sectional is, but we got off to a nice start and gained a little confidence,” said fourth-year coach Joe Paszek, noting the sectional field also included No. 6 Greenwood
and four-time state champion Center Grove.
“With high school kids, once they see they can do something they just follow through.”
Perhaps no Grizzly Cubs player epitomizes what these past few months have been like the way starting rightfielder Stephanie Janczak has.
After moving here in the summer of 2012 after being in the Hamilton Southeastern school district from kindergarten through her sophomore school year, Janczak’s desire to compete this season was halted by a degenerating disc in her
Janczak, as a means to help the program any way she could, served as Franklin’s team manager before finally receiving medical clearance to play.
She made her 2014 debut in a 12-4 triumph against, ironically enough, Fishers, in the first game of an April 26 doubleheader. Janczak went 2 for 4 at the plate and drove in a run.
“Coming back was really cool. My back started to get better, and since this is my senior year I really wanted to play,” said Janczak, a 4.0 student who in the fall will be majoring in special education at Brigham Young University.
“To be sectional champion is so surreal because nobody really expected Franklin to come out on top.”
“I think part of Stephanie’s decision is she saw the fun we were having and wanted to be part of it,” Paszek added. “She’s been a big addition for us. Great kid and a great personality.”
Janczak’s .236 batting average puts her in the middle of Franklin’s order, one led off by senior second baseman McKenzie Writt, who hits a scorching .488 to go along with other team-highs such as hits (41), steals (7) and on-base percentage (.527).
Sophomore shortstop Whitney Shapp (.300, 7 doubles, 4 steals) bats second and is followed by twins Olivia and Grace Paszek, the Grizzly Cubs’ pitcher and first baseman, respectively.
Olivia hits .459 with 13 doubles while also holding a 16-6 mark on the hill with a 1.44 earned run average. Grace so far is batting .368 batting with a team-high 22 RBI.
Baleigh Potter, the Cubs’ sophomore catcher, takes a .333 average to the plate tonight. She’s followed in the order by sophomore centerfielder Shelby Taylor (.284, 9 runs), designated hitter Gabi Terhune (.274, 12 RBI) and junior third baseman Katelynn Keimeyer.
Freshman leftfielder Katie Crump has played in 23 of the team’s 26 games.
Coach Paszek was informed years ago that even keel is the way to approach everything be it life or athletics.
He along with assistant coach Mark Lloyd have been preaching this message to his players all season. Not surprisingly, the team’s seniors have taken the philosophy and run all the way to regional with it.
“Our seniors have led by example and our younger kids because they’re good athletes watch that. It’s almost a role model thing,” Paszek said.
“I also feel our schedule has helped us. The Mid-State Conference is very solid competition, so I think that sets us up all season long.”
A season Franklin hopes to extend tonight.