A big third inning Saturday afternoon propelled host Center Grove to the Johnson County Tournament championship in softball.
Ranked No. 3 in Class 4A, the Trojans spotted Greenwood an early one-run lead but came on strong for a 10-5 win to earn their second straight title.
Except for a short lapse in the last two innings when the Woodmen scored four runs on a double and a pair of errors, Trojans coach Russ Milligan was pleased with the effort.
Milligan applauded the Trojans’ timely hitting.
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“We teach our kids to be effective with the bat,” Milligan said. “We concentrate on our hitting behind runners and bunting well because you never know when you’re going to need to do it.”
Center Grove pounded out 16 hits and executed a few bunts to move runners in scoring position.
The Trojans also benefited from a three-hit pitching performance by senior Taylor Hammill.
After giving the Woodmen a one-run the lead in the first inning, Center Grove scored a run in the second inning and got four more in the third to take control.
In that inning, Center Grove had four hits, including consecutive doubles by Hammill and junior Nicole Abrams, and a two-run double by freshman Abby Herbst.
With the exception of the first inning, Center Grove scored at least one run in every inning. The Trojans needed the cushion in the light of the fact the Woodmen kept charging.
“Unfortunately, we gave up five runs,” Mulligan said. “I don’t like seeing that. We’re always practicing to make sure we don’t have those type of lapses.”
With only two seniors on the roster, Greenwood — which was bidding for its first county title since 2014 — is a young team that starts a host of sophomore and freshmen.
But Woodmen coach Greg Norwood waved off inexperience as a reason for losing.
“We’re young and (the Troajns) are talented and have a strong lineup,” Norwood said. “But (being inexperienced), that’s no excuse. I’m hopeful we learned a lot.”
Center Grove improved its record to 19-3, while Greenwood falls to 12-8.
Greenwood will be busy this week with five games scheduled. Norwood is confident the extra work will pay dividends for the Woodmen, who play Center Grove in the first game of the Franklin Central Sectional on May 23
“We’re getting as many games in before facing them again,” Norwood said. “Center Grove is a team that can adjust. We need to do that.”