It was a perfect Tuesday afternoon for the Whiteland softball team’s season-opening game.
The weather cooperated, there was a nice turnout and the confident Warriors made play after play to shut out county rival Center Grove, 3-0.
This was no April Fools’ Day joke.
Whiteland was ready to go, collecting 10 hits to Center Grove’s four, in knocking off the Class 4A No. 7 Trojans.
Warriors head coach Scott Montgomery naturally was thrilled his players’ winter work had paid off immediately.
“That’s the way the kids worked all winter,” Montgomery said. “They weren’t afraid, and they came out and showed it. It’s a great confidence boost to start the season.”
Whiteland’s confidence was prominently demonstrated by sophomore pitcher Danielle Munn, who gave Center Grove’s extensively retooled lineup little to hit.
The left-hander scattered four hits and struck out nine batters in all. The only walk she issued was an intentional pass in the sixth inning.
“Our plan was to take it one play at a time and do our best,” Munn said. “I was just so thankful I had my teammates behind me every single play.”
Those plays included junior center fielder Monica Wagner’s catch of a long fly ball — looking straight into the sun — after the Trojans’ standout leadoff batter, senior Sarah Thompson, got CG’s lone extra-base hit, a double, in the sixth inning.
The next inning, with Center Grove desperately trying to add more base runners after Victoria Boyer singled, Whiteland senior right fielder Kylie Bryson impressively stabbed pinch-hitter Maddie London’s line drive to get the hosts to just one out away.
Those were two of many sparkling plays that preserved the Warriors’ offensive work.
Senior shortstop Jo Jo Settles, who was 3-for-3 in the contest, drove in Whiteland’s first run with a double to right center field in the third inning. Settles brought in catcher Skye Scott, who reached on a double earlier.
The Warriors scored their second run in the fourth when Center Grove’s infield couldn’t get together on a bunt single. A resulting errant throw past first base allowed Whiteland pinch runner Alanna Esque to trot home from third.
In the sixth inning, sophomore Sarah Shipe took a low-and-away pitch and hammered it over the right center field fence to give the Warriors a key insurance run.
Center Grove head coach Russ Milligan was less than pleased with his team’s execution on offense and defense, but didn’t want to take away from Whiteland’s efforts.
“We did not swing the bat. That’s the story, plain and simple. And we didn’t field their bunts,” Milligan said. “But my hat’s off to them (the Warriors). They were more prepared, and they played better than we did.”