Senior staff writer
Greenwood’s softball team is discovering life without all-everything pitcher Brittney Gray.
After a heralded high school softball career at Greenwood, Gray is one of two standout pitchers at the University of Georgia, where she is 13-4 and has a 1.33 ERA with seven complete games, including a 7-6 win over No. 5 and Southeastern Conference rival Alabama last month.
Gray was 11-1 as a senior at Greenwood and had a 0.44 ERA while striking out 114 batters. She led the Woodmen to four Mid-State and two Johnson County championships and was a two-time County Player of the Year.
“It’s awesome to watch her on TV,” Greenwood starting pitcher Megan Overton said of her former teammate. “It’s amazing that she is pitching for the team that she always wanted to be with.”
Overton was 9-1 last year with an ERA of 1.02 and a team-high .437 batting average. Her sister, Rachel, graduated after hitting .416 and going 2-2 on the mound.
Greenwood’s pitching duties are spread among No. 1 Overton (2-1), senior Dani Speas (0-1) and junior southpaw Paige Wilson. Overton is the team’s most experienced pitcher. Her best pitches are a nasty screwball and rise ball.
Each pitcher brings a different quality to the rubber, according to Woodman interim coach Greg Norwood. “Megan’s strengths are mental toughness and game smarts. She plays with an attitude sometimes, and it seems to help her with that toughness on the field. With runners on base, she wants to make the pitch or make the tag herself.”
Norwood remarked that Speas has a good mix of effective pitches. “She is not going to blow you away with any speed. She hits her spots and stays consistent.”
Overton pitched both games of a double-header Saturday at Mooresville. She threw a three-hitter in the first game, which the Artesians won 1-0. In the second game she gave up her first earned run of the season in the fifth inning on a triple that scored a runner. Mooresville won 2-1 in nine innings on a rare infield throwing error from third.
Norwood contends that one-run games may be normal for the Woodmen this season.
“We have a lot of youth with two freshmen starters,” Norwood said. “We’re trying to do the small stuff the right way. The key to our success on defense is being aggressive and playing the ball. We’re going to see a lot of close games.”
While the Woodmen try to defend their Mid-State crown, Gray continues to add to her legacy hundreds of miles away. Ten of her games this season are telecast on the SEC Network, ESPN or ESPNU.
“She (Gray) was such a big help to the team,” Overton said. “We worked together and took care of every single game. We knew we had each other’s back no matter what because we knew what to do in every situation that came up. Without her we still have to find a way to win.”
Overton struck out 13 batters in Greenwood’s first game against Indian Creek and whiffed 22 Mooresville hitters in the twin bill.
Her sister pitches for Lindenwood University in St. Charles. Mo.
Elsewhere in softball, Beech Grove pounded Northwest 21-9 in five innings on a grand slam by Reecie Gilliam and two home runs from Cheyenne Sutt.
On the baseball diamond, Roncalli has reeled in five straight wins, including the two-game Trojan Classic championship Saturday at Center Grove, after losing its season opener to highly regarded Lawrence North.
The Rebels dropped Terre Haute North 6-1 behind pitcher Christian Beard and dumped West Vigo 10-0. Drew Naumovich and Casey Gore each hit a homer.
After going 1-3 in Nashville, Tenn., Greenwood split a Mid-State double-header Friday at Mooresville. The Woodmen won the opener 11-1 but dropped the nightcap 8-6.
Greenwood broke open the first game with an eight-run outburst in the fifth. Winning pitcher Reid Werner hit a three-run home run and scored when Preston Lye was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.