Floyd Central softball advances to semistate final

Floyd Central softball advances to semistate final

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Floyd Central softball advances to semistate final

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Floyd Central's Alexis McCullough crosses home plate with the lone run as the Highlanders clipped Roncalli 1-0 in the 4-A softball semistate at Bedford on Saturday afternoon.

Floyd Central’s Alexis McCullough crosses home plate with the lone run as the Highlanders clipped Roncalli 1-0 in the 4-A softball semistate at Bedford on Saturday afternoon.

BEDFORD — Jensen Striegel’s sweet stroke sent Floyd Central into uncharted territory on Saturday afternoon.

Striegel’s two-out RBI double to right-center in the fifth inning was the difference as the Highlanders edged Roncalli 1-0 in the IHSAA Class 4-A softball semistate at Bedford North Lawrence. Floyd Central, which advanced to the final for the first time in program history, will face No.3 Center Grove in tonight’s championship game.

Strigel, a sophomore slap hitter who relies on contact and speed to reach base, lined a two-strike pitch from Roncalli ace Jordan Jenkins (15-4) into the gap and chased home courtesy runner Alexis McCullough.

The scoring inning started with Kassie King’s lead-off single to left. With one out, Clara Shean got down a sacrifice bunt and set the stage for Striegel.

“Getting the ball in play was my main thought,” Striegel said.

“That was a great hit, a great at-bat,” Floyd coach Scott Castleberry said. “We’ve had a lot of kids step up, and that was awesome.”

That was all the offense King (15-3) required in the pitching circle. She scattered six hits and escaped two late jams.

Floyd Central's Kassie King scattered six hits while pitching a shutout against Roncalli.

Floyd Central’s Kassie King scattered six hits while pitching a shutout against Roncalli.

In the top of the sixth, the Rebels (26-9) threatened with two outs. Olivia Hoffman, who had thrown out Taylor Castleberry at the plate in the first inning, reached on an infield single. Taylor Shull followed with a drive into the right-center gap, but she was thrown out at second moments before Hoffman crossed the plate.

Roncalli rallied again in the seventh, loading the bases with one out. But King got Jenkins to pop out to second base, then struck out Mallory Marsilek for the final out.

“When you’re in the final eight teams in the state, you’re going to have a battle,” Castleberry said. “Obviously I would like to score more than one.”

Floyd (28-6-1) had other opportunities. After Castleberry was gunned down in the first, the Highlanders had runners on second and third with one out in the third but came up empty.

“When you only give up one run against an explosive team, I’m pleased with that,” Roncalli coach David Lauck said. “We did everything right except win the game. We went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the state.”

Floyd Central is now one victory away from a berth in the state championship game.

“We’re trying to make history,” Striegel said. “It’s one game at a time.”

In the first semfinal, Center Grove scored two unearned runs to eliminate Decatur Central 2-0.

No.3 Center Grove (27-2) scored twice in the third. Victoria Boyer reached on catcher’s interference and Delainey Turner stroked a one-out single to center, racing to second as Boyer beat the outfielder’s throw to third.

With two outs, Mallory Baker’s ground ball off the glove of Decatur Central first baseman Karli Ricketts glanced to second baseman Shelbi Miller, but Miller fumbled the ball and both runners scored as the late throw went to first.

“A lot of these games, at this point, will come down to that,” Center Grove coach Russ Miligan said. “It comes down to who keeps their cool. Most of the time, in these big games, it comes down to not making crucial mistakes. We got lucky that they made two mistakes in a row.

That play was the difference. Center Grove pitcher Abbey Pratt (20-2) allowed only two hits and struck out 7.He also blanked the Hawks 1-0 on two hits during the regular-season meeting.

“She mixes the ball great and kept our hitters guessing,” said Decatur Central coach Kristina Criswell, who started five freshmen. The Hawks bowed out at 19-11.

Center Grove is chasing its first semistate title since 1998, when it won the last of its three state championships.

CLASS 4-A

Softball semistate at Bedford

Semifinals

Decatur Central 000 000 – 0 2 2

Center Grove002 000 x– 2 7 1

WP – Abbey Pratt (20-2).LP – Breena Smith (15-8).Records – Decatur Central 19-11, Center Grove 27-2

Roncalli 000 000 0– 0 6 0

Floyd Central 000 010 x– 1 8 0

WP – Kassie King (15-3). LP – Jordan Jenkins (15-4). 2B – Paige Meyer (FC), Jensen Striegel (FC). Records – Roncalli 26-9, Floyd Central 28-6-1.

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