Franklin, Alford start strong for Georgia State softball

If the Georgia State softball team is going to be successful in 2014, MeQuilla Franklin and Callie Alford figure to play a prominent role. The former area duo got off to a great start last weekend.

Alford, a junior catcher from Heritage, had five hits and reached base 10 times in 16 plate appearances and Franklin, a Rockdale graduate and senior infielder, was 6 for 14 at the plate as the Panthers went 3-1 at the Georgia State Invitational at the Bob Heck Softball Complex.

Georgia State (4-1) defeated Indiana 4-3 and cruised past East Tennessee State 11-5 Sunday as Alford was on base five times and Franklin had a double and an RBI in the East Tennessee State victory.

Both Franklin and Alford had strong season debuts.

Before the tournament began, Georgia State played Indiana Friday and Frankln had two hits, including a walk-off, three-run home run that ended the 14-6 victory by run-rule in the fifth inning. Alford didn’t play against the Hoosiers, but made her presence felt a day later. After drawing a four-pitch walk in her first plate appearance of the season and being retired on a ground out and fly out in her next two at bats, Alford ripped a grand slam to dead center field in the top of the fifth, part of an eight-run frame that allowed the Panthers to defeat Bowling Green 11-1.

Against the Ohio school, Franklin added an infield single and a pair of stolen bases in three trips to the plate. The duo contributed in the field as well with Alford picking off a runner at first as part of a double play in the fourth and Franklin making a diving catch of a line drive at third base in the Bowling Green half of the first.

Franklin and Alford each had a pair of hits - Franklin also drove in a run and Alford added her second walk of the day - in a 9-7 loss to UT Martin in the Panthers’ final Saturday game.

Franklin, who is off to a .471 (8 for 17) start at the plate, is in her second season at the Atlanta school after transferring from Chattanooga State Community College. In her first two collegiate seasons, Alford (team-high .625 on-base percentage) was part of the Colonial Athletic Association’s all-freshman team in 2012 and was second-team all-CAA as a sophomore. The Conyers native was selected to the preseason all-Sun Belt team before the year began.

Georgia State will return to action next weekend when it plays five games in the Georgia Tech-Kennesaw State Invitational, starting Friday with a 3:00 p.m. against Stony Brook at Georgia Tech’s Mewborn Field.