GREENFIELD — If college softball programs haven’t taken notice of Greenfield- Central’s Michaela Ballman, they will soon.
Ballman, who tied the state record with four home runs in a game earlier this season, sent her sixth blast of the season over the fence Wednesday against New Castle to help the Class 4A No. 10 Cougars fend off the No. 14 Trojans, 7-3.
Uncommitted, Ballman, a junior, also got the win on the mound to move to 2-0 this year, striking out six in a complete-game effort. Her teammate, junior Codey Miller, also sent a ball over the fence, her first of her high school career, and finished 2-for-3 overall.
“We had contributions all over our lineup,” Greenfield-Central head coach Jason Stewart said. “We got a lot of good swings; obviously Codey’s was big. She’s been working hard. She still has some work to do, but when she’s doing stuff right, she can hit.
“We did some new strength training this year. The girls who committed to it in the offseason, you can tell it’s helping their swing. The balls are just exploding off their bats.”
The Trojans entered the game with eight players registering 10 or more hits this season but struggled to gain traction against Ballman as the junior allowed just seven hits and 11 base runners the entire game.
“She was fantastic; they only hit a few balls well,” Stewart said. “She’s tough out there and hits her spots and controls her speeds. Teams aren’t going to hit her hard, but they are going to put it in play.”
Added Ballman, “I was throwing strikes and they were swinging at stuff, which made it a little easier.”
In the bottom half of the first inning, Ballman sent a deep ball over the left-center field fence after junior Morganne Denny singled to right field for a 2-0 Cougars lead.
After a three up, three down second frame, Greenfield-Central (9-0, 2-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference), which beat New Castle twice last season, got another run (3-0) after leadoff hitter Sarah Morris scored on a Sydney Williams single over shortstop.
New Castle (9-3, 1-2 HHC) made things interesting in the top of the fifth inning, though, scoring three runs after McKinley Duvall’s double cleared the bases, pulling the Trojans within one, 4-3.
Greenfield-Central would answer, however, with junior Makayla Durick plating two in the bottom half of the inning to give her team a 6-3 lead heading into the final two frames.
That would be as close as the Trojans would get as Greenfield-Central added an insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth inning to seal the win.
Denny finished 2 for 4 at the place with two singles. Ballman and Durick each finished with two RBIs. Morris scored two runs and also stole a base.
“We had to get our heads in the game from the start,” Denny said, who is committed to play at IPFW. “People know we’re good, but we treat every game like it’s our last, and that’s why I love this group.”
At 2-0 in conference play, Greenfield-Central remains undefeated with New Palestine atop the HHC standings. It looks to remain perfect today at home against Rushville. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
New Castle 3, Greenfield-Central 7
NCHS (9-3, 1-2 HHC);000;030;0;—;3;7;4
GCHS (9-0, 2-0 HHC);201;121;x;—;7;8;4
W: Ballman (2-0) L: Perdew (NC).
2B: Duvall (NC). HR: Ballman, Miller (GC). RBI: Ballman 2, Williams, Durick 2, Morris (GC). Duvall 3 (NC). SB: Morris (GC).
GC: Denny 2-4 two singles; Miller 2-3; Kihega 1-2 single, hit by pitch; Morris two runs; Durick 2 RBIs.