NEW PALESTINE — With two of the bigger hitting softball teams in the tournament meeting in the quarterfinals of IHSAA Class 4A Sectional 9 at New Palestine, most would expect the bats to be the difference.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday night when Greenfield-Central and Pendleton Heights met on the diamond.
The Arabians used just four hits to knock off the Cougars 5-2.
Two hits came on bunts, one was an infield single, and the other was a slap hit to the left side that got through with the shortstop covering second base on a steal attempt.
Greenfield-Central had just three hits and only six base runners.
“We just have to hit. If you would’ve told me before the night that they had four hits, I would’ve thought for sure that we won,” Greenfield-Central head coach Jason Stewart said. “Credit to their pitcher for keeping it down and moving it around.”
It was the Arabians ability to be patient at the plate that made all the difference. Seven walks and three batters hit by a pitch were the catalysts to the Pendleton Heights runs.
In the second inning, they scored the first two runs of the game with just one hit in the inning, a bunt.
Two walks and the bunt-single loaded the bases, and then back-to-back hit batters brought in runs.
Two wild pitches led to another Pendleton Heights run in the fifth, and another hit batter, bunt-single and wild pitch led to two more runs for the Arabians in the sixth off of starting pitcher Madysen Herbert.
“Madysen threw a great game. I don’t know if anybody has held them to four hits and no extra base hits all year,” Stewart said. “She just had some control issues. She’s got the tools though, and when she throws strikes teams can’t hit her. She’ll mature with that.”
In those same innings, though, it was Herbert’s ability to limit the damage that kept the Cougars in the game.
In the second, after giving up the two runs, she limited the damage by escaping a bases-loaded and no-out situation.
The following inning, she struck out the final two batters to leave runners on second and third base, and in the sixth got out of another bases-loaded jam.
“She worked out of a lot of situations that could have gotten really ugly really early,” Stewart said. “She was just able to work through some stuff and that was big.”
A Katie Muegge single in the third was the Cougars first hit of the game, and a sacrifice bunt by Addison Herrin gave them their first runner in scoring position with the top of the order coming to the plate.
Kristen Wineinger just missed a game-tying home run, flying out to the left field warning track, and Olivia Roberts was sent down on strikes to end the frame.
In the fifth, a Makenna Rankins double started the Greenfield-Central rally, and a few batters later Roberts came through with a two-run single to move G-C back within one, 3-2.
With the tying run on third, Pendleton Heights starting pitcher Shelby Messer got the Cougars No. 3 hitter, Cam Burelison, to strike out.
“We just couldn’t get that big hit,” Stewart said. “We had a couple opportunities with the right people up, but it just didn’t work out.”
In the sixth and seventh, the Cougars were sent down in order to end the game.
Messer struck out the side in the seventh to move her strikeout total on the night to 10, and capped off a night in which she fooled the Cougars bats over and over with the use of her changeup.
“We worked all week at what we were expecting, and we looked pretty good at it. We got out here tonight though and just couldn’t get it done,” Stewart said. “The two games that we played them, they really shut down our big hitters.”
For Greenfield-Central, Herbert pitched all seven and allowed the five runs on four hits and seven walks, while striking out 10.
Pendleton Heights 5, Greenfield-Central 2
Pendleton Heights (21-5-1);020;012;0;—;5;4;0
Shelby Messer and Sydney Clark. Madysen Herbert and Charlotte Riehle. 2B: G-C – Makenna Rankins. WP: Messer (10-0). LP: Herbert (8-5).