For the Daily Journal
The wind was blowing and the ball was flying off the hitters’ bats Wednesday afternoon, but Class 3A New Palestine wasn’t concerned with home runs.
The Dragons wanted to win, and it didn’t matter how.
Turning the corner last week after a disappointing 9-7 loss to Zionsville, the Dragons were both opportunistic and unified in their approach against 4A No. 3 Center Grove.
The result was a 12-hit domino attack by the Dragons (14-2) and a 5-4 win against the formerly unbeaten Trojans (14-1).’
“We had a really tough week last week and really had a letdown against Zionsville,” New Palestine head coach Ed Marcum said. “We had a pretty good meeting after that, and I think the girls took it to heart. They’ve responded very well.”
The Trojans took the early lead on a two-run home run by Jordyn Rudd, who went 4-for-4 with two home runs, but New Pal never lost faith. In the bottom of the first inning, the Dragons used five hits and a walk to take a 3-2 lead.
Center Grove carried a .443 batting average through a 14-0 start to season, and against New Palestine they showcased their muscle, clubbing three home runs to push the team total for the year to 18.
Tyler LeMasters hit a solo home run in the second to tie the game at 3-3. Rudd’s second blast came with two outs and no one on base in the top of the seventh.
New Palestine’s Elisha Barker, however, never wavered. She left a pair of Trojan runners stranded in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth innings as her defense flashed the leather.
“This is probably the best game she’s pitched this year,” Marcum said. “She did a good job hitting her spots, mixing her pitches and making the big pitch.”
Center Grove starter Nicole Abrams (7-1) took her first loss, lasting 2 2/3 innings with four earned runs allowed, two walks and one strikeout. She was relieved by Abby Herbst, who gave up a run and struck out three.
“Any time you beat one of the best programs in the state, who is undefeated through the first half of the year, you know you have to play well,” Marcum said. “Rudd put two home runs up against us, but we came back after the first inning. If we shut down there, it’s a different game.”
The decisive RBI single came with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, when Michaela Jones laced a grounder up the middle to score courtesy runner Tete Hart from second base.
Barker closed out the game in the seventh, leaving Abrams on second base after Rudd’s second homer by inducing a routine grounder to Ashley Prange at short.
New Palestine 5, Center Grove 4
WP: Elisha Barker LP: Nicole Abrams
HR: Tyler LeMasters, Jordyn Rudd 2 (CG).
RBI: J. Rudd 3, T. LeMasters (CG); Abby Davis, E. Barker, Michaela Jones, Mackenzie Jones 2 (NP).
Notables: Ashley Prange 2-4, E. Barker 2-4, 6.0 IP, 5 K, 4 BB, Mary Crumlin 2-4, Mackenzie Jones 2-4 (NP); J. Rudd 4-4 (CG).