By Adam Wire | For the Daily Journal
In what was surely the most highly anticipated first-round high school softball sectional matchup in the state, host Mooresville dispensed of the drama early Monday against Center Grove.
The Class 4A No. 3 Pioneers scored four first-inning runs and then gradually pulled away from there en route to a 7-1 win over the eighth-ranked Trojans.
Mooresville (27-3) will advance to play Martinsville in today’s semifinal. Center Grove’s season ends at 18-9.
Meanwhile, in the second game, Franklin took control early, scoring six second-inning runs and five in the third to cruise past Greenwood, 16-6, in six innings.
The Grizzly Cubs (8-19) will face No. 2 Whiteland in today’s semifinal. Greenwood’s season concluded with an 8-15 mark.
The Pioneers parlayed two hit batsmen, two stolen bases and three hits into four runs in the first inning. Meanwhile, all Center Grove managed against Mooresville starter and Indiana University recruit Alex Cooper was five hits and a fourth-inning run.
Payton Shimansky’s two-out single scored Ashlynn Wolff, which cut the Pioneers lead to 4-1 in the fourth. However, Mooresville immediately responded with a pair of fifth-inning runs and a solo home run in the sixth.
Center Grove starting pitcher Riley Henson struck out 11 batters and walked none. She scattered seven hits, and only four of her runs were earned. Two Trojan errors, one in the first inning and another in the fifth, led to three unearned runs.
The Trojans’ offense managed five hits against Cooper, all in the first three innings, but failed to capitalize twice on good scoring opportunities. Hannah Haberstroh and Wolff led off the bottom of the first inning with consecutive singles, and Riley Janda sacrificed them to third and second, respectively. But the next two batters, Lex Warner and Shimansky, popped out and grounded out to end the threat.
Center Grove also had runners on first and second with one out in the second inning, but followed that up with a flyout and groundout to go scoreless.
Wolff reached base all three of her plate appearances, with two singles and a hit by pitch.
The second game was a wild affair in which Franklin bolted to a 12-0 lead after three innings and led 14-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, but Greenwood temporarily thwarted an early end with five runs in the bottom of the inning. The Grizzly Cubs tacked on two more runs in the top of the sixth and held the Woodmen scoreless in the bottom of the inning to end it.
Freshman pitcher Bryleigh Carlisle-Haltom was dominant for Franklin through the first four innings. She no-hit the Woodmen for 3 1/3 innings before Greenwood’s Avery Kraeszig broke the spell with a solid single to center field.
Carlisle-Haltom allowed just two hits and one run in five innings. She came back in to pitch a scoreless sixth inning after being relieved in the fifth.
Adeline Blackwell, another freshman, was the Grizzly Cubs’ key offensive contributor. She finished 4 for 5 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Sara Small, Mia Herbert and Ashlynn Keser each collected two hits for Franklin.