INDIANAPOLIS — After a tense and lengthy sectional championship game, Greenfield-Central softball coach Jason Stewart thought his team got just what it needed. And he was proven right Tuesday night, as his Cougars rolled to a 10-0 win against Lawrence North to claim the program’s first regional championship since 2010.
“After getting through the sectional final, I thought we would come out and play great today,” Stewart said. “It showed right away today with how loose we were playing and how our pitcher threw her best game of the year.”
While the Cougars may make a lot of noise at the plate, it was senior pitcher Michaela Ballman who was the star of the show Tuesday night. Ballman through a complete game allowing only two singles.
Ballman had two strikeouts, but by working the inside of the plate masterfully she induced weak contact throughout the game, with only one ball being struck with any kind of authority.
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“With us grabbing an early lead and just being prepared and loose, it allowed Michaela to really go after their hitters and keep them off balance,” said Stewart. “She just kept slamming the door on them.”
The Cougars grabbed their early lead in the first inning with a gift from the Wildcats. With two outs, Lawrence North committed an error, which put runners on first and second base.
Sydney Williams and sectional hero Sarah Morris followed with back-to-back RBI singles to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead after the first half inning.
Sydney Williams would go on to have a shining game at the plate as the Cougars designated player. In her first four at-bats, she hit four singles and drove in three runs. She would finish 4-for-5.
“Sydney stepped up,” Stewart said. “She’s had some big postseason moments for us and she just keeps producing.”
Morganne Denny also shone at the plate for the Cougars, finishing 4-for-5 with a home run and five RBI. In the seventh inning, Denny became the only player on either team take advantage of the strong wind blowing out to center field by crushing a ball well over the fence to push the Cougars’ lead to 10-0.
With the win, the Cougars advance to the regional round to play Avon at Bedford North Lawrence on Saturday at 11 a.m. Saturday also is graduation day for Greenfield-Central, but Stewart thinks his seniors will be alright with missing it.
“No one outside the program really expected much from this group,” Stewart said. “So I think [missing graduation] is a problem they are happy to have.”
Greenfield-Central 10, Lawrence North 0
GCHS (23-6); 220;103;2;—;10;16;2
LNHS (15-13); 000;000;0;—;0;2;3
WP: Michaela Ballman. LP: Taylor Erschen.
HR: Morganne Denny (GC). 2B: Maria Kihega (GC).
Notables: Denny 4-5, HR, 5 RBI; Sydney Williams 4-5, 3 RBI; Ballman 7 IP, 2H, 2K (GC).