GREENFIELD — With a combined 35 home runs between New Palestine’s and Greenfield-Central’s softball teams this season, Thursday’s Hoosier Heritage Conference showdown provided every ingredient needed for a high-scoring affair.
Class 3A No. 2 New Palestine, behind 18 hits, held up its end of the bargain as the Dragons topped the Class 4A No. 13 Cougars 16-5 in five innings for the team’s third win in a row.
Junior Elisha Barker limited the Greenfield-Central offense, which averages 9.5 runs per game, to four hits and no runs in three innings of work to earn the win. She is now 9-2 on the mound this season.
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Offensively, Mary Crumlin, Tara Morey and Casey Lehman led New Palestine with three RBIs each as Morey and Madison Whitaker also added two doubles in the win.
“I knew they (Greenfield-Central) could hit, but Elisha (Barker) did a great job of keeping them off balance,” New Palestine head coach Ed Marcum said. “Offensively, we were patient and found some holes. We had a lot of great at-bats.”
Both teams now have two Hoosier Heritage Conference games remaining this year as Greenfield-Central (11-4, 2-3 HHC) has yet to play Pendleton Heights and Shelbyville while New Palestine (14-2, 4-1 HHC), who remains in a tie for first in the conference, will play Delta and Mt. Vernon.
After Tuesday’s home win against Cathedral, in which the Dragons scored eight runs in the first inning, Marcum noted the team’s focus on obtaining quick starts.
New Palestine did exactly that Thursday, scoring four runs in the first inning off four hits, including three doubles. Morey’s extra-base hit over Greenfield-Central’s center fielder scored two Dragons as Ashley Prange led off the inning with a walk and later scored on a double from Hoyt, followed by another double from Whitaker.
Morey and Whitaker each finished 3-for-4 at the plate while Crumlin was 2-for-3.
“Tara (Morey) had an outstanding game again today,” Marcum said. “She is pretty confident right now and she came up big again today. That ball to center field was torched.”
Cougars starting pitcher Makayla Durick, who began the top half of the second inning with two walks, was replaced by Michaela Ballman in the same inning with no outs on the scoreboard. Ballman would send the next three batters back to the dugout, but she lasted only an inning, too, and was replaced by Sydney Williams.
Morey would strike again in the third frame, slapping her second double of the day to score Carly Roberts for a 5-0 lead. But it was just the start. The Dragons batted around their order in the third inning — and then some — to score a total of eight runs off nine hits for a commanding 12-0 advantage.
Morey also collected a single in the inning as the team produced five hits in a row at one point.
The Dragons added three more runs an inning later as the Cougars could never quite get on track after the explosive start from its HHC foe. Although, Greenfield-Central’s Codey Miller did add an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth.
The Cougars added two more in the fifth inning, as well, with Ballman and Maria Kihega knocking RBI singles.
Darcie Huber led the Greenfield-Central offense on Thursday, finishing 2-for-3 with two singles. In just her sixth game back from injury, Huber is hitting .454 at the plate.
Miller finished with two RBIs while Lehman also had two hits for the Dragons.
New Palestine 16, Greenfield-Central 5
NPHS(14-2, 4-1 HHC);408;31x;x; -;16;18;1
GCHS(11-4, 2-3 HHC);000;14x;x; -;5;9;1
WP: Elisha Barker (NP). LP: Makayla Durick (GC).
2B: Hoty, Whitaker 2, Morey 2 (NP). RBI: Hoty 2, Morey 3, Crumlin 3, Lehman 3, Prange, Whitaker 2, Buttler (NP). Miller 2, Ballman, Kihega, Knapp (GC). SB: Roberts (NP).
NP: Prange two walks, Hoyt RBI double, Whitaker two doubles, Morey two doubles, Davis bunt single, two walks.
GC: Huber two singles, Ballman 2-3 RBI, Kihega RBI, Miller two RBIs.