Softball riding undefeated streak, breaking records

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Dan Finnerty

Last year, then-freshman Kendall Rumans took the Franklin High School (FHS) varsity softball team by storm as a pitcher/infielder. While all who followed Coach Bobby Bishop’s team could appreciate her and the entire squad’s performance over the past year-plus, a stellar accomplishment by Rumans was overlooked from last season.

In the summer of 2023, the FHS athletic department began constructing a softball records catalogue. While doing so, it was discovered that not only had Rumans topped a long-standing runs-batted-in (RBI) season record, she shattered it.

RECORD-BREAKING sophomore Kendall Rumans delivers a pitch.

In 2010, then-FHS softballer Jordan Pickens set the record for most RBI in a single season, at 34. Last year, Rumans recorded 46, besting the old record by 12 runs. Her performance was a major contributing factor in a 2023 outright Mountain Seven Conference (M7C) championship for the Lady Panthers. This season, prior to the March 7 game vs. Smoky Mountain, Rumans was presented with a special plaque to commemorate her accomplishment.

Meanwhile, this year’s team is currently undefeated and has now won 17 games in a row at home. Their record at the start of April was 8-0 (4-0), with two games scheduled this week, at Brevard and at East Henderson, which were the first two of five consecutive games on the road.

KENDALL RUMANS slides home for a run.

Rumans is leading the team in on-base percentage (OBP) at .758; batting average (.714); runs scored (17); hits (20); RBI (20); and slugging percentage (1.607).

Senior catcher/outfielder Avery Moffitt leads the team in home runs (6), while fellow senior Olivia Birchard is pacing the team in stolen bases, with four.

On the pitching side, Senior Meyaeh Tran leads in earned run average (ERA) at 2.44, with Rumans just behind (2.79).

JV girls 

JV GIRLS’ player Clarke Anders determinedly makes direct contact with the softball at a late March game.

The junior varsity (JV) girls stood at 2-1-1, with a game at East Henderson scheduled for April 9. The JV Lady Panthers won big over both E. Henderson (19-3) and Tuscola (18-3) at home, but then lost big on the road at Pisgah to the Lady Black Bears, 2-17. With six games remaining on the schedule, all against M7C competition, new coach Troy Cousineau has a great chance for a winning season.


FRESHMAN ANDERSON Terrell leads all Franklin High School baseball players in batting average and slugging percentage and fills in occasionally on the pitcher’s mound.

While off to a rough start at 4-7 (1-5), the FHS Panthers baseball team was on a two-game winning streak going into this week’s schedule with a home game vs. Pisgah on April 8, followed by a game at Smoky Mountain on April 9. Head Coach Jared Greenwood’s guys suffered through two three-game losing streaks during March, with two each coming against North Henderson and Tuscola.

TERRELL SLIDES in safe at a recent game.

Three returning players, all seniors, are having standout seasons, thus far. Malachi Hayes, leads the team in innings pitched (18.2) and strikeouts (26). Josiah Hayes is a close second in both categories with 20 punch-outs in only 14 innings pitched. Ian Knepp leads in ERA at 1.91.

Offensively, freshman Anderson Terrell leads all players in batting average and slugging percentage, both at .500. Otherwise, the team spreads its wealth in performances with Hayes leading OBP at .515, while freshman William Rauers paces the team in stolen bases at seven. Knepp has excelled in hits, with eight, while fellow seniors Jayden Rogers and Jackson Hursey, in addition to Rauers, are tied with five RBI each.

SENIOR PITCHER Josiah Hursey on the mound at a spring game.

With 10 games left in the regular season, there is still plenty of time for the Panthers to turn this season into a winning one and work their way up the conference wins ladder.

SENIOR CATCHER Jayden Rogers tags out a N. Buncombe runner at the plate.

All photos by Ronnie VanHook.