In her first plate appearance, Franklin College softball player Morgan Burch launched a home run.
Right away, her confidence soared.
In her next at-bat, she doubled. Then she singled.
And then, the sophomore slugger did something really special.
In her final plate appearance against Berea College on March 28, she belted another extra-base hit that assured a 16-5 win for the Grizzlies.
But it did more than that.
Burch’s final hit was a triple, completing a 4-for-4 day at the plate and, more notably, giving her the distinction of hitting for the cycle.
Rare in baseball and rarer still in softball, where triples are harder to come by, completing the cycle happens when a player collects a single, a double, a triple and a home run in the same game.
When Burch did it, it generated plenty of excitement on the softball team. Long after the fact, that is.
At the time, no one in the Grizzlies’ dugout — including Burch — realized what she had accomplished.
“Actually, my dad did mention something about it when I got home that night,” said Burch, who, like her teammates, was caught up in the thrill of winning and oblivious to individual highlights.
Even Grizzlies coach Butch Zike, a longtime baseball and softball coach, wasn’t cognizant what his player had accomplished until she was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Hitter of the Week.
“I didn’t realize she did it until I read it,” said Zike, whose team has been more focused on winning than anything else.
And perhaps that was the best part about Burch hitting for the cycle. It happened in the context of a win, and it happened at a time Burch was already red-hot at the plate, all of which contributed to it going unnoticed.
For the week, the Grizzlies went 6-2. During that stretch, Burch hit .538 (14 for 26) with a 1.038 slugging percentage.
She blasted seven extra-base hits, including two home runs, and drove in 15 runs — the highlight being a four-RBI performance during an 8-3 win against HCAC rival Hanover.
“She’s an even-keeled kid,” Zike said. “This is a player that wasn’t in the starting lineup early and just waited her time.
“And once she got it, oh, she’s just exploded and carried us these last couple of weeks.”
A starting outfielder from Cascade High School, Burch is hitting .442 on the season with three doubles, three triples and 16 RBIs for the 16-8 Grizzlies.
“We’ve been getting a lot of bonding time. Something’s happened this year, and we’ve just clicked,” Burch said. “On the field, off the field, we all work together.”
“Working together just makes things better as a team. It helps us win.”
Although it is unclear whether Burch is the first Franklin softball player to ever hit for the cycle, but it is a very achievement.
In Major League Baseball, for example, hitting for the cycle has occurred only 306 times since Curry Foley first did it in 1882.
As for Burch, she remembers hitting for the cycle as more of an enjoyable day at the plate than a historic feat.
“I just felt relaxed and had fun,” she said. “You’re just getting up there and relaxing. That was the best part of it.”
They’re No. … 3?
Center Grove, the defending Class 4A state softball champion, is ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll.Penn occupies the top stop, followed by Crown Point.
Rounding out the top 10 is Carmel at No. 4, followed by Lake Central, Avon, Floyd Central, Franklin Central, Castle and Cathedral.
Off to a 4-0 start, the Trojans are the only local team ranked in the top 10 of the softball polls.
Edinburgh, however, received votes in the Class A poll and is 14th.