By Brady Extin | Daily Reporter

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GREENFIELD – Early game offense has been no stranger to Greenfield-Central to open the 2023 softball season.

In Wednesday night’s season-opener at Hamilton Southeastern, the Cougars put up six first-inning runs, and last night they nearly matched that with an opening-inning five spot.

But unlike Wednesday, the Cougars bats stayed alive the remainder of the game and fueled them to a 16-6 five-inning win over Richmond in their home opener.

“That’s the good thing about this sport is once you start playing you get a lot of games in a row. If you don’t get the result you wanted, you’ve got a chance to do something about it the next day,” Greenfield-Central head coach Jason Stewart said. “That was a tough one yesterday [Wednesday] against a really good team, we came out hot but just didn’t keep hitting.”

Two strikeouts by Richmond pitcher Macie Ferguson almost kept the Cougars off of the scoreboard in the first inning, but with the bases loaded and two outs, G-C reeled off four straight singles.

Starting pitcher Faith Butler helped herself out by driving in the first two runs on a hard hit single that hopped over the shortstop’s glove and into left field. Kristen Wineinger followed up with a two-run single, and Leilani Forshey knocked in the final G-C first-inning run.

After a scoreless second, Greenfield-Central sent 13 batters to the plate in the third, and broke the game wide open with eight runs on eight hits.

Six Cougars knocked in runs, including Forshey who doubled and singled in runs for her second and third hits of the game. Camille Burelison notched a two-run double, Butler recorded her third RBI, and Makenna Rankins and Addison Herrin each had RBI-singles.

Three more runs, including a leadoff home run in the fourth by center fielder Olivia Roberts, pushed the lead to 16-1.

“It’s a different level than what we saw (Wednesday), but one thing that it was (Wednesday) was those first-game jitters. We have a lot of new kids playing, and we started six underclassmen,” Stewart said. “Once they start getting more into it, I think they’re going to be fine. These kids have a ton of potential.”

Ten Cougars reached base, nine recorded a hit, and seven had two or more hits. Butler, Forshey and Wineinger led the Cougars with three RBIs each. Roberts scored three runs and had the Cougars’ lone stolen base.

With the bats giving G-C a comfortable lead, Butler went to work in the circle in her season debut, limiting Richmond to one run over four-and-one-third innings of work. She struck out four, and did what she does best by keeping the ball on the ground and trusting the infielders around her.

Outside of the three singles, no other ball left the infield through the first four frames. Four groundouts to shortstop, one to third, and four back to her in the circle kept the Red Devils in check.

“Faith did a good job. She kept the ball down, and that’s what she does. She isn’t going to blow it by anyone, but she does a pretty good job hitting her spots. She did that (Thursday), and we made plays behind her,” Stewart said. “I think we’re extremely versatile defensively and have a very good defense, and we’re going to hit. It’s just going to come down to our pitching.”

After a Greenfield-Central pitching change to Burelison in the fifth, the Red Devils made an effort to extend the game. Three walks, two hit batters, and two-run singles by both Brianna Durham and Amareea Hunter brought the G-C lead back down to 16-6. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Stewart went back to his starter, Butler, who got another ground out to close out the game.

“Cam struggled a bit, but out of the three (pitchers) she has thrown maybe the best in the preseason, so I think it will come for her, she’s just trying to work back into it,” Stewart said. “They haven’t got to throw outside much because of the weather, but she’ll be fine once we start getting a groove and playing every other day like the season usually works.”

The Cougars are back in action Tuesday at 5:30 at home against Indianapolis Scecina.

Greenfield-Central 16, Richmond 6

Richmond (0-2)000;24; — ;6;5;1

Greenfield-Central (1-1)508;3x; — ;16;17;0

Macie Ferguson and Abby Hatch. Faith Butler, Camille Burelison (5), Butler (5) and Savannah Riall. 2B: G-C – Burelison, Leilani Forshey, Butler. HR: G-C – Olivia Roberts (1). WP: Faith Butler (1-0). LP – Macie Ferguson (0-2)