Cathedral sophomore Brittany Ford hit one home run as a freshman. She has eight this year, but probably none more dramatic than the one she delivered Wednesday afternoon against Class 4A No. 7 Center Grove.
With her team trailing by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, and with runners on first and second with one out, Ford drilled a shot over the left-field fence just inside the foul pole, giving the Irish a stunning 5-4 win against the defending state champs.
Valerie Moore started the rally with a one-out double, and Janae Hogg – who had hit a two-run homer in the fifth – was intentionally walked. Up stepped Ford, who then added to her state-leading home run total.
“Hard work pays off,” Ford said. “I’ve worked really hard in the offseason to now. I just try to keep improving my game every year. I see what I need to work on and make a list of it, and in the offseason … I work on that every single day.”
Center Grove (8-2) had won three straight games since an April 12 loss to Carmel. Meanwhile, the Irish (7-5) had lost three straight games – getting outscored 40-8 in the process – before a 19-1 win against Heritage Christian on Tuesday.
“We struggled (during the losing streak), but we just kept believing in ourselves,” Cathedral coach Tony Matthews said. “This is definitely going to build the momentum. We feel it’s going to be the big turning point of our season.
It didn’t take long for Center Grove to strike. Maddie Keeley led off the game with a double; two batters later, she came home on a wild pitch to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead.
Center Grove built the lead to 2-0 in third when, with one out, Jordynn Rudd hit a shot to center field that cleared the fence for her third home run of the season.
Two innings later, Rudd connected again, this time knocking the ball over the left-center field fence with two outs to push the lead to three runs.
But the Irish came right back. With two outs in the fifth, Moore reached first base on an error. Hogg followed by planting the next pitch well over the left-field fence, cutting the lead to 3-2.
Center Grove pushed the margin back to two runs in the sixth when Nikki Abrams doubled and came home on Abby Herbst’s single. The Irish left runners on first and third in the bottom of the inning, but delivered in the seventh.
Cathedral pitcher Alex Jackson went the distance, scattering nine hits. She got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh with two flyouts.