Center Grove has a long win streak, is ranked No. 3 and is a clear front-runner for the Class 4 state softball championship.

But the Trojans aren’t looking past the sectional.

Specifically, they aren’t looking past tonight’s first round opponent.

That would be Greenwood, who the Trojans have beaten twice this season, most recently in the championship final of the May 14 Johnson County Tournament.

For that reason, the Trojans would prefer to open sectional play against just about anybody but Greenwood — a fierce local rival with a winning record, a dangerous pitcher and a wealth of motivation.

“You want to try to take as much emotion out of your postseason as you can,” Trojans coach Russ Milligan said. “There’s enough with just the do-or-die (aspect). To add they’re an in-county rival and the fact we beat them twice, that gives them the ‘nothing to lose (mentality).’

“Those are scary teams to play, the nothing to lose teams.”

Center Grove (22-3) and Greenwood (14-10) play in tonight’s 6 p.m. opener of the Franklin Central Sectional. Franklin (6-17) and Whiteland (4-22) follow at 8 p.m.

Tonight’s winners will meet in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal. Martinsville (11-13) plays No. 8 Franklin Central (19-5) in the 8 p.m. semifinals.

The semifinal winners will play for the championship Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Although the defending state champion Trojans are favorites on paper, they take nothing for granted in what is a traditionally tough sectional.

Franklin Central, Greenwood and Martinsville have been state-ranked in recent years and are capable advancing.

Moreover, tournament-host Franklin Central is an annual state power that, like Greenwood, has a score to settle with the Trojans. Center Grove beat the Flashes in a 3-2 thriller April 25 on their home field.

But Center Grove’s focus isn’t on the Flashes. It’s on the Woodmen, who the Trojans beat 10-5 in the county tournament final.

Despite a young lineup filled with sophomores and freshmen, Greenwood features one of the state’s top pitchers in senior Megan Overton (14-6, 1.60 ERA), a Boston College recruit who is by now quite familiar with the Trojans’ batters.

Then again, Center Grove’s pitchers know the Woodmen’s lineup, too.

“It’s bad because you know each other so well,” Milligan said. “I’m pretty certain with a smart pitcher like Overton, a very talented pitcher like Overton, she has got a mental if not a physical log of what she did and we did and what she’s not going to do next time. So that makes it pretty difficult.

“I’d much rather play those games of the unknown, because you have a better chance of surprising people or getting this pitch or that pitch.”

Although the Trojans would prefer a different first round opponent, they enter the postseason on a roll.

Winners of 14 straight, they hit .418 as a team and feature a one-two pitching punch in freshman Abby Herbst and senior Taylor Hammill.

Herbst is 12-0 with a 1.09 ERA. Hammill is 9-3 with a 1.97 ERA.

Herbst also leads the way at the plate. She’s hitting a team-high .562 with a three home runs and 34 RBIs.

Senior Mandy Dallas is hitting .500 with four home runs and 32 RBIs, and sophomore Jordyn is hitting .494 with team-high totals of seven home runs and 37 RBIs.

Even more impressive, the Trojans have scored 214 runs in 25 games and have a habit of scoring multiple runs per inning, seldom giving opponents a chance to rally.

“That momentum, once it gets shifted is really tough to regain if you don’t do that,” Milligan said. “We tend to score in multiple innings. That is a big plus.

“It doesn’t allow another team to generate a great deal of momentum.”

If you go


Where: Franklin Central High School

Tonight’s first round: 6 p.m., Greenwood vs. Center Grove; 8 p.m., Franklin vs. Whiteland

Tuesday’s semifinals: 6 p.m., Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 vs. winner; 8 .m., Martinsville vs. Franklin Central

Wednesday’s championship: 6 p.m.

Admission: $6 per session, $10 season ticket


Where: Indian Creek High School

Tonight’s first round: 5:30 p.m., Northwest vs. Washington; 7:30 p.m., Beech Grove vs. Danville

Tuesday’s semifinals: 5:30 p.m., Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner; 7:30 p.m., Indian Creek vs. Greencastle

Thursday’s championship: 6 p.m.

Admission: $6 per session, $10 season ticket

Class A

Where: Edinburgh Community High School

Today’s first round: 5 p.m., Waldron vs. Edinburgh

Tuesday’s semifinals: 5 p.m., Morristown vs. Southwestern; 7 p.m., game 1 winner vs. Greenwood Christian Academy

Wednesday’s championship: 6 p.m.

Admission: $6 per session, $10 season ticket

Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.