SHREVEPORT – One walk was the difference between a no-hitter and perfection for Crimson Tide ace Trace Francis Friday night in a 11-0 route of the Northwood Falcons.
The Minden senior was as good as it gets, carving up the Northwood lineup for five innings while his offense plugged away at Falcons starter Nick Thompson and anyone else Northwood tried to throw at them.
It’s the first no-hitter of Francis’s varsity career and it moved the Tide to 3-0 in district play.
In the aftermath, Francis deflected the spotlight and acknowledged his defense for making the special outing possible.
“I wasn’t really on my best game,” Francis said. “It was really our defense that made it possible.”
To his point, Francis only had five strikeouts, but the Tiders behind him played an error-free game.
“I felt like I was spotting up pretty good. They were squaring some balls up, they just went right to our guys.”
It’s just the latest in a long line of strong outings by Minden’s best arm.
“Everyone I’ve come in contact with said that was the best they’ve seen (Trace) pitch,” Minden head coach Dean Francis said. “Every time he takes the mound he’s going to throw strikes.”
The big hit came off the bat of Justin McCready, another senior making big plays for the Tide, a two-run home run. Gavin Smith went 1-3 with 3 RBIs and Jordan Lyday added a double and 2 RBIs. Matt Eskew had an RBI single for Minden and Peyton Gray posted 2 RBIs.
Saturday, the Tide and Falcons tangled again, this time at Griffith Stadium, with Minden earning a 14-2 win.
Gunner Stephens’ bat was red-hot with a pair of singles and 4 RBIs. Francis added a single and 2 RBIs, Eskew had a two-RBI single, McCready doubled and finished with 1 RBI and Cade Coleman and Peyton Gray had run-scoring hits as well.
Gavin Smith was the winning pitcher, tossing a two-hit gem and allowing one earned run. It’s the second impressive outing for Smith in as many tries as the Minden pitching staff has been steady all season.
With some tough games upcoming against Benton and North DeSoto to wrap up district play, Francis believes his team is nearing their best ball.
“I keep telling our guys the teams who can get hot are the ones who are going to look up and be deep in the playoffs,” Francis said. “I’ve yet to see the game we can play, but the last two nights it all came together. I like where we are; I just hope we can continue it.”
Minden hosts Huntington Tuesday at 6 p.m.