The Center Grove softball team had to wait a year for a chance to avenge last year’s upset tournament loss to Franklin Central.
When the opportunity came, the Trojans didn’t let it slip away.
Jordyn Rudd delivered a pair of RBI doubles, and Abby Herbst gave up just four hits from the pitching circle, leading host Center Grove to a 6-1 triumph Tuesday in a Class 4A sectional semifinal.
The Trojans (26-1) will play in tonight’s sectional title game against Greenwood, which held off a late rally to beat Whiteland 4-2 in the second semifinal game.
Story continues below gallery
“After we lost to them last year, it was really important to me and to all of us to get it going, and we were really pumped up,” Herbst said. “I really wanted to avenge what happened last year, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The Flashes (19-9) scraped together a run in the top of the first on an error, a bloop single, a botched infield fly and a groundout. That slim edge held through the first two innings, as Franklin Central hurler Kaitlyn Back got through the Trojans’ lineup once without allowing a hit.
She wasn’t as fortunate the second time through. With one on and two out in the third inning, Rudd ripped a double down the left-field line, scoring Piper Belden from first to tie the game. Herbst followed with a single to right that brought Rudd in with the go-ahead run.
After surviving a Franklin Central threat in the top of the fifth, Center Grove added to its lead in the bottom of the frame.
Belden reached on a one-out single and again came all the way around on a double into the gap by Rudd, sliding in just ahead of the tag to make it 3-1. A two-out fly to center by pinch hitter Lexi Fair dropped between two Franklin Central outfielders, allowing Rudd to score. After Jessica Lupinetti reached on an error, Taylor Dishman and Brittney York delivered consecutive RBI singles, and suddenly the Trojans had a comfortable five-run cushion.
That was enough support for Herbst, who struck out seven without a walk.
In the nightcap, the Woodmen (8-16) drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning on a two-run double by Olivia Daugherty. Greenwood then doubled its lead in the fifth on RBI two-baggers by Kaitlyn Heffner and Alexis Rees.
The Warriors (6-20) put together a last-ditch comeback bid in the seventh. Lindsey Boltz led off with her second single of the night, and Maddy Margraf followed with a run-scoring triple, coming home herself on a throwing error.
Heffner, though, was able to gather herself and get the final three outs. She allowed four hits on the night, struck out two and walked one.
“We made great contact that last inning,” Whiteland coach Katie Mitchell said. “It just would have been helpful for it to happen sooner.”
Despite the fact that the Trojans handled Greenwood with ease twice in the regular season, they’re not taking anything for granted in today’s championship game.
“We’re going to be just as excited as we were (Tuesday),” Herbst said. “We’re going to take it seriously, and I know you’re going to see us do great things.”
Stories from the Center Grove, Indian Creek and Edinburgh softball sectional games on Monday night were omitted from Tuesday’s Daily Journal. You can find those stories on Page XX.