BEDFORD — New Palestine didn’t let having to work overtime effect the way it played in Monday’s championship softball game in the Class 4A South Semi-State at Bedford North Lawrence.

In fact, the Dragons used having to complete Saturday’s suspended semifinal game earlier in the day as motivation against the well-rested fifth-ranked Center Grove Trojans (25-7).

The No. 4 Dragons jumped on the Trojans early and needed just five innings to move on to the program’s first-ever Class 4A state championship game with a 14-2 victory.

New Palestine (26-4) will play No. 12 Hamilton Southeastern (24-4) 8 p.m. Friday at Purdue University’s Bittinger Stadium seeking the program’s seventh state championship. Most recently, the Dragons won consecutive Class 3A crowns from 2017-19.

On Monday, the Dragons used the momentum of an afternoon 6-0 victory over Avon in the resumption of a suspended semifinal game that started Saturday. The Dragons led 2-0 after two innings. The final five were completed beginning at 1 p.m. The championship game started at 7 p.m.

Center Grove had won early Saturday in the other semifinal game, knocking off No. 1 Castle, 6-5. The Trojans were fresh but the Dragons had all the energy.

“When I talked to my team I tried to flip it,” New Palestine head coach Ed Marcum said. “Everybody was talking about them getting the rest. These girls play travel ball and play four or five games a day, that’s nothing for them. I tried to tell them we’re going to come out with a high of a win if we come out and take care of business with Avon. We can keep that momentum going right to the championship game. I am just so proud of them.”

“We talked about that when our game got rained out. We weren’t going to let them not having to play (Monday) get to us,” New Palestine senior shortstop Allie Blum, who hit a first-inning two-run home run, said. “We were just going to come out as hard as we did the first game. There was no point in (the championship game) that we weren’t going to win. We were going to win from the first pitch.”

The Dragons scored four first-inning runs on five hits and five second-inning runs on four hits to jump out to a 9-1 lead.

Blum’s first-inning homer was her 21st of the season, which leads the state and is a single-season school record.

Following the home run, New Palestine followed with four more first-inning singles. Katie Hirschy had an RBI-single and Maddie Engle knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice.

In the second, after Center Grove’s Sydney Herrmann got the Trojans on the board with a deep drive over the right field fence, the Dragons spent no time increasing their lead.

Ten Dragons came to the plate. Ella Holman got it started with a single. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jersi Gross. Blum was intentionally walked, and Paige Ernstes lined out to second base. After two outs, the Dragons were able to score five times.

Syd Oliver drove in two with a double. Hirschy added her second RBI-single in as many innings. Walks to Engle and Reese Rosenbaum were followed by a two-run double by freshman Payton Dye.

“(The quick starts) are important. It’s momentum and it helps us bring the energy,” Holman said. “If we start off slow it’s really hard to bring energy and I feel like that first big inning helps us for the whole game and sets the tone.”

The Dragons didn’t stop after a couple big innings.

Blum doubled in the third and scored on an Oliver single, who later came around to score on a wild pitch.

The Dragons added three more in the fourth, all after two outs. Blum walked and stole second base. Ernstes walked and Oliver singled to knock in Blum. It was Oliver’s fourth hit of the game. She went 4-for-4 with four RBI. Hirschy walked and Engle knocked in two with a single.

While the offense was putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard, senior pitcher Courtney Study was taking care of business in the circle against a Trojan team that had won 15 in a row since losing to the Dragons on April 24.

Study gave up four hits, including a pair of solo home runs. She faced the minimum in three of five innings and only four batters in the fourth when Center Grove scored its second run on a Taylor Barrett homer.

“We came in wanting it so much. We knew that we could and we just had to prove it,” Oliver said. “It was such a great team win. Everybody was hitting up and down the lineup, which is what I love to see. Everybody’s up in the dugout and everybody’s’s hitting on the field, it’s just insane.”

The Dragons had 14 hits. Along with Oliver’s four, Hirschy had three and Blum had two. Oliver and Blum scored four runs each.

New Palestine 14, Center Grove 2

Center Grove (25-7);010;10;—;2;4;0

New Palestine (26-4);452;3x; —;14;14;0

Riley Henson, Taylor Barrett (2), Riley Fuhr (3), Aiyana Keown (4) and Madisyn Tharpe; Courtney Study and Reese Rosenbaum. 2B: NP – Sydney Oliver, Payton Dye, Allie Blum. HR: CG – Sydney Herrmann (8), Barrett (3); NP – Blum (21). WP: Study (17-2). LP: Henson.