The 24-year-old Francella had five birdies and a bogey on the Bosque Real Country Club course in the round marred by sporadic rain that prevented 87 players from completing the round. She had an 8-under 136 total.
'I'm definitely confident. I'm playing well enough to win,' Francella said. 'My putting is really good right now. I'm hitting the ball well.
'There's a lot of great players out there. I keep trying to tell myself that I belong out there and I belong in that position.'
Stacy Prammanasudh, the first-round leader after a 67, and South Korea's Seon-Hwa Lee were tied for second at 6 under. Prammanasudh, coming off a victory two weeks ago in the Fields Open in Hawaii, played only two holes Saturday, while Lee shot a 69.
Mi Hyun Kim was 5 under through three holes.
Annika Sorenstam, the two-time defending champion making her first start of the year, was 3 under through two holes. Natalie Gulbis also was 3 under through two holes.
'I've had a good day, a relaxing day,' Sorenstam said. 'I try and stay positive. I like it here. I'm playing well. The conditions are the same for everybody.'
Mexican star Lorena Ochoa was 2 under, also through two holes.
'I've got a good rhythm and I feel great,' she said.
Play resumed after a three-hour delay, then was called for good at 6 p.m. because of lightning. Thirty players were unable to start the round.
The first round also was hampered by rain, with 67 players finishing play Saturday morning.
'I'm sad for the golf enthusiasts who aren't getting a chance to enjoy this great course,' Ochoa said.
The tour hopes to complete the round Sunday morning, and tournament official Angus MacKenzie said the event would continue until Monday, if needed, to finish 54 holes.
'Nobody wants to win just playing 36 holes,' MacZenzie. 'They want to show they have played the whole 54 and beaten the field,' he said.
Francella, who started play on the back nine, birdied Nos. 11, 15, 8 and 1 to reach 8 under, dropped a stroke on No. 4 and birdied No. 8. The New York player earned an LPGA Tour card with a fifth-place finish last year on the Futures Tour money list.
'Some people are mad at the delay,' she said. 'I'm fine about it. It's not a big deal. Patience is a key factor.'
The Bosque Real course is the longest on the tour at 6,932 yards and also the highest at about 8,000 feet above sea level.