Center Grove softball coach Russ Milligan is familiar with the hype surrounding incoming freshmen who might be capable of making an immediate varsity impact.
Milligan, in his 24th year at Center Grove, had heard Jordyn Rudd’s name long before she settled into a batter’s box for the Trojans this spring. He took a wait-and-see approach with regard to her varsity preparedness.
What he’s seen during the past two-plus months is the starting right fielder rank second on the team in batting average (.505), on-base percentage (.529), hits (46), home runs (three) and RBIs (32).
Rudd also is third in runs scored (32) and doubles (nine), and fifth in at-bats (46).
As the third-ranked Trojans prepare for Saturday’s Class 4A championship game against No. 5 Lake Central, it’s clear the 5-foot-10 Rudd has lived up to the post-middle school buzz, and then some.
“I hear things, but tend not to listen to anything simply because I base it on what I see,” Milligan said. “Every kid here is an All-Star. They grew up being an All-Star, being on the special travel teams and whatever.
“But we knew early on that Jordyn Rudd was a pretty fine softball player.”
She wasted no time proving it, producing at least one base hit in 21 of Center Grove’s first 22 games, including a pair of 4-for-4 performances in wins against Terre Haute South and Martinsville.
With the exception of an 0-for-9 stretch scattered during three games in late May, Rudd never cooled off. The first-year player has gone a combined 8 of 14 in in the past four postseason games, which were wins against New Palestine, Bloomington South, Decatur Central and Floyd Central.
With the spotlight at its most intense, Rudd delivered three hits, a run and an RBI in a 7-6 victory against Floyd Central in the championship game of the Bedford North Lawrence Semistate.
“I was nervous at the beginning of the season, but it’s a game, and I’ve played enough that I know that I just go out and play my game,” Rudd said.
A former catcher, Rudd has adapted nicely to lining up defensively in the outfield with a .923 fielding average and only two errors.
“It’s very different, but I’ve learned to adjust,” Rudd said. “I’ve worked really hard on it and am trying to be the best I can out there for our team.”
Rudd, senior Mallory Baker and junior Maddie London are all capable of being outstanding defensive catchers for Center Grove, which meant Milligan had to find a place for Rudd in order to get her bat in the lineup.
“It’s funny, we are a catcher-laden team,” he said. “I have a catcher behind the plate, I have a catcher at first and I have a catcher in right field. For Jordyn to accept that means a lot, too.
“All of my catchers are very capable. All of them do a fine job behind the plate, but it just so happens (Rudd is) the best right-fielding catcher I have, and Mallory Baker is the best first baseman catcher I have. Maddie London is not the best first baseman, not the best right fielder, but a very fine catcher.”
Milligan adds that the maturity Rudd exudes at such a young age be it at the plate, in the field or in the dugout also has been a bonus.
“The biggest thing that Jordyn has done for this team is not necessarily her individual stats, even though she’s hitting over .500, which is a phenomenal year,” Milligan said. “(It’s) having that young talent pushing the upperclassmen to achieve probably beyond what they would have achieved if they weren’t being pushed a little bit.
“It is those young kids like Jordyn that have pushed our older players to not be satisfied and to constantly try to get better.”
THE RUDD FILE
Name: Jordyn Rudd
Position: Right field
Batting statistics: 46 of 91 (.505), nine doubles, two triples, three home runs, 32 runs, 32 RBIs
What: IHSAA Class 4A State Softball Final
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ben Davis High School, 1200 N. Girls School Road, Indianapolis
Teams: Center Grove (28-2) vs. Lake Central (28-6-1)