Russ Milligan is not a fan of winning ugly, and the veteran Center Grove softball coach is not shy about letting his team know that.
There was no ugly on Monday afternoon as the Class 4A No. 2 Trojans shut out Franklin Central 6-0, avenging the sectional defeat that ended their season prematurely last spring.
“The girls responded like champions,” Milligan said. “I let them know I wasn’t happy with the way they played (Saturday), even though they won. They picked it up today and responded well to my criticism of their game.”
Milligan was talking about the Trojans’ 7-3 win against a formidable Jennings County team. In that game, the Trojans hit well but made five errors.
Center Grove again hit well, bashing out nine hits — six of them for extra bases — but this time they also were solid on defense, as they didn’t commit an error.
And on the mound, senior pitcher Nicole Abrams gave up only three hits against a quality team.
Right from the start, this was a beauty for Center Grove.
The Trojans (13-0) scored twice in the first inning and tallied four more runs in the second, thanks to four extra-base hits.
“We have girls who can rake the ball up and down the lineup,” said Milligan.
Although the hitting wasn’t as good in the final four innings, the damage already was done, and the Trojans kept the Flashes from making any serious threat.
Senior Hanna Burris had a big day with three hits, including a double, two runs and an RBI. Senior Maddie Keeley had a triple, RBI and scored two runs, while junior Jordyn Rudd had two hits, a double and a run.
Also stroking the ball well was sophomore Abby Herbst, who had a double and three RBIs. Junior Tyler LeMasters also doubled and scored a run.
“Hanna was just awesome, and my hat’s off to Nicole Abrams,” Milligan said.
Abrams not only picked up the win, but she also doubled and had an RBI to help her own cause.
It was almost batting practice for the Trojans, and Milligan said he was pleased with how the bats were swinging.
Center Grove could have had more runs and hits, but several solid shots landed in Franklin Central gloves.
The Trojans host MIC rival Warren Central this afternoon.