Center Grove junior Lexi Fair’s towering two-run home run in the sixth inning was all the power the Trojans needed to edge Franklin Central, 2-0, on opening night of the IHSAA softball sectionals.
As sectional hosts, No. 3 Center Grove broke open a pitcher’s duel that had lasted for five and one-half innings when pitcher Abby Herbst led off with a single to rightfield. Fair stepped in and slammed FC senior pitcher Casey Matthews’ first pitch over the left-centerfield fence.
“I made an adjustment after my second at-bat,” Fair said. “She (Matthews) had been throwing inside. When I saw that pitch, I knew I had to go for it.”
Fair’s big blast went against her pre-game thoughts on how the Trojans would win.
“I thought this would be a game that we would have to somehow pile up singles after singles to score,” the veteran catcher said. “We knew this game would be brutal because they (Flashes) always play us hard.”
Never-say-die No. 21 Franklin Central threatened in the seventh inning when junior Emma Herron led off with a grounder into centerfield and freshman pinch-hitter Brenna Fink was hit by a pitch. Herbst settled down again with a pop-up to second base and then struck out the last two Flashes.
“This (sectional) is a juggernaut,” exclaimed first-year Trojans coach Alyssa Coleman who led Speedway to the 2A state title last year. “We knew they (Flashes) would be very competitive and tough to beat.”
The Trojans collected seven hits off Matthews and starting pitcher Hailey Pardue, a combination that FC coach Kathy Stricker used often late in the season.
The Trojans played Martinsville in Tuesday’s semifinal against Martinsville that ended Greenwood’s season, 11-2, Monday. The sectional title game is today at 6 p.m.
Elsewhere, defending 4A state champion Decatur Central shut out Roncalli, 2-0, in the 4A sectional Monday on the Hawks’ diamond. Ben Davis defeated Perry Meridian, 8-3.
In the 1A sectional at Lutheran, the host No. 9 Saints prevailed against Edinburg, 14-5. Lutheran faces Waldron today at 5:30 p.m. The championship game is Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Baseball sectionals begin today with Perry Meridian meeting Pike at Decatur Central; Franklin Central testing Franklin and Center Grove facing rival Whiteland at Martinsville; and Lutheran going against Morristown and Greenwood Christian colliding against Edinburgh at Morristown. Complete pairings online at: www.ihsaa.org.