GREENFIELD — The Greenfield-Central Cougars did not want to mess around Monday against a less successful opponent. They wanted to jump out big, rest starters and gain the reserves valuable postseason experience.
All goals were accomplished.
Maria Kihega led off the game with the first of three Cougar home runs and four pitchers combined to no-hit the Bearcats as Greenfield-Central routed Muncie Central 16-0 to advance to the sectional semifinals.
The Cougars will face Pendleton Heights on Tuesday after the Arabians edged New Castle 3-1 in the first game of the evening. The Arabians knocked off Greenfield-Central (20-6) in Greenfield on May 9.
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Coach Jason Stewart said the goal was to get a big lead early against Muncie Central (2-14) and rest his starters for today’s game.
“To their credit, they waited until she threw one over the plate, one that they could drive, and they hit it,” Stewart said. “The game is what it is; we knew what we were up against going in. We knew if we took care of business and get ready for tomorrow night, we’d be fine. And that’s what we did.”
Sara Morris added a two-run double to cap a five-run first before the Cougars exploded for nine runs in the second. The big blow came from Morganne Denny, who hammered a grand slam home run that put the lead at 14-0.
The big lead allowed Stewart to pull his starters, resting them for today as well as getting backup players some playing time.
“I was hoping, and we talked to the starters, let’s get out on them and give some kids a chance to play,” Stewart said. “Even if it’s a game like this, it’s still a sectional atmosphere and it’s the biggest crowd these kids are going to face all year. We got that done; we got a lot of kids some time that are going to have to step up for us next year.”
Four Cougar pitchers — starter Makayla Durick, Lexi Rankin, Madge Weidner, and Macie Fultz — combined to shut out the Bearcats, allowing just three walks while striking out nine. Stewart said the pitchers did their jobs.
“They threw strikes,” Stewart said. “In a game like that, when you’re up big, that’s all we want in that situation.”
Greenfield Central 16, Muncie Central 0, 5 innings
WP: Makayla Durick LP: Ayala Wilson
HR: Maria Kihega, Morganne Denney, Sara Morris (GC). 2B: Morris (GC).
RBI: M. Kihega, Michala Ballman, Denny (4), Zoey Kessler, Morris (3), Durick (2), Emily Francis (GC).
Notables: Denny 1-3, 3 R, 4 RBI, HR, Morris 3-3 3 R, 3 RBI, HR (GC).