The Whiteland softball team did its best to create some drama early in Tuesday’s season opener at Center Grove.
A first-inning Warriors rally was snuffed out by the Trojans, however, and a three-run homer by Tyler LeMasters in the bottom of the inning set the wheels in motion for what became a 23-1 rout.
Center Grove (1-0) managed to escape trouble at the outset after Whiteland’s Skye Scott led off the game with a base hit and advanced to second on a one-out walk by Lindsey Boltz. A sacrifice bunt by Maddy Margraf put runners on second and third, but left fielder Maddie Keeley hauled in a fly ball for the final out.
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“If we don’t come through and make some plays,” Center Grove coach Russ Milligan said, “they get on the board and it’s a different ball game.”
Whiteland starter Shelby Gibson almost made it through the bottom of first inning unscathed before LeMasters came up with two out and two on and took one out of the park.
“I just try to keep my team upbeat,” LeMasters said. “It’s really fun to be with all the girls, and I knew as soon as I got that hit, they’d all be excited.”
Indeed it did. The Trojans took the momentum from LeMasters’ blast and ran with it, putting up 12 runs in the second to put the game out of reach. Seventeen batters came to the plate in the inning.
Whiteland got on the board in the third when Reese Lott scored on a Margraf single, but Center Grove responded with five runs in the bottom of the frame. Another three-run home run in the fourth, this one from Jordyn Rudd, capped the scoring.
Milligan was pleased with how his team performed after not being able to get on the field more than a handful of times in the preseason, and he took advantage of the opportunity to get his reserves some action.
“Every kid in the dugout had two at-bats; that’s great for a first game,” he said. “And every kid in the dugout did something positive while they were at the plate, and I had several that came in and something positive in the field also. So I’m pretty pleased with how we showed that we weren’t very rusty.”
Nikki Abrams got the victory on the mound, scattering four hits and and three walks.