Greenfield bats too much for Cardinals

GREENFIELD — One evening after a rout against a county and conference rival, Greenfield-Central looked to avoid a letdown and keep momentum going toward the back stretch of its season on Saturday.

After a slow start for the offense, Class 4A No. 11-ranked Greenfield-Central scored eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to pull away from Southport on the way to a 9-2 win.

The Cougars improved to 14-2 on the season.

“They’re still a young team. They’re trying to figure out how to bring that intensity every night. Sometimes you gotta wake ’em up a little bit. This time of year, you want to get in a groove,” said Greenfield-Central coach Jason Stewart, whose club beat Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Mt. Vernon, 12-0, Friday.

While the offense may have started slow, Greenfield-Central starting pitcher Darcie Huber certainly did not. Huber sent the first nine Cardinals to come to the plate back to the dugout. The top of the fourth inning would prove a bit more difficult, however.

Huber hit the first batter of the inning with a pitch to end her perfect game attempt. And, after a sacrifice bunt and the first hit of the game by Southport drove in a run to tie the game 1-1, Huber found herself in a bases loaded jam. Huber, though, got the next two batters to fly out and strike out, respectively, to escape the jam with minimal damage.

“(The umpire’s) zone was tight tonight,” Stewart said. “But she did a great job of pitching out of trouble, which I was happy to see.”

Huber (10-0) was taken out after the fifth inning after allowing only one hit and one run with seven strikeouts.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Greenfield-Central bats came alive. Thirteen batters came to the plate for the Cougars in the frame. Singles by Sarah Morris and Morganne Denny drove in the first two runs of the inning, and Darcie Huber helped herself with a bases clearing double to stretch the lead to 6-1. Three more runs would score, capped off by a two-RBI single by Deena Miller, who had two hits in the inning.

After the outburst, the Cougars began to substitute younger players to get experience and give some key players rest heading into a key week of games. Greenfield will play at Shenendoah (9-3) on Wednesday, followed by a showdown at New Palestine (12-3, 3-2 HHC) on Thursday that will be key to the Cougars’ title hopes.

Greenfield-Central is 4-1 in the league, trailing only Pendleton Heights (10-4, 2-0 HHC). A win over the Dragons would put the Cougars in position to clinch at least a share of the title when they host Pendleton Heights on May 12.

Stewart was looking forward to the game against New Palestine when he said, “If we take the intensity we took to Mt. Vernon the other night and play to our potential, we can compete with anybody. It’s just a matter of getting these kids to believe in that.”