Sadie Frame, Sydnee Sconyers and Caylee Ann Sutton all openly admit that after the first practice of the year, the feelings they had about the 2017 edition of the FPD softball program were not all positive.
The Vikings were coming off of a state championship in 2016, and the departure of six seniors left Frame, Sconyers and Sutton as the only remaining seniors on the team. But things have worked out as Vikings are headed back to Columbus for the GHSA Class 1A private school championship tournament, which begins Thursday.
“Honestly, I was a little scared,” said Frame, who is a two-year starter at second base and had a walk-off home run against Darlington in the Vikings’ first state playoff game this year. “I think we just kept getting better as the year went by, but even after the region playoffs, I wasn’t sure we get make it to the final eight. The Darlington series was the first time I had the feeling we were that team again, a team like last year that could make a run for the state championship.”
Sconyers also admitted that at the beginning of the season she wasn’t sure how the season would turn out.
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“Honestly, I didn’t think we would get that far,” said Sconyers, who is batting .344. “The seniors just kept telling the younger players that making it to the final eight in Columbus will be one of the coolest things they will ever get to do, and we just kept getting better throughout the season. I know that I am very confident in what we can do, and I think everyone else is too.”
The road for FPD in Columbus will not be easy. The Vikings face Tattnall Square (26-4) in the first game at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Tattnall has beaten FPD twice this year by a combined score of 15-2.
“Tattnall is a very good softball team, but I feel like we have a team that can string something together in a tournament bracket like this,” said Denny Bryant, who is in his first year as the program’s head coach. “We struggled early with six girls who had never really played varsity softball, but we have continued to improve. These three seniors are the backbone of the team, and they came up big against Darlington, and I think they are ready for one more run. We feel like with Karsen Ochs on the mound and throwing well, we have a chance if we can score a few runs.”
Sutton was clear as to what she felt turned the season around.
“This team had a lot of things to figure out as far as where everyone would play this year,” said Sutton, who missed most of last season after a shoulder surgery but is a three-year starter. “Last year we had a very close team, and it wasn’t until we all started hanging out together midway through the season that things came together. The communication between us is so important on the field, and I think that has shown in the last few games. It is a huge accomplishment for this team to make it back to Columbus, but we aren’t going just to play two games and go home.”