INDIANAPOLIS | Lauren Murray's fourth-inning double over the left fielder's head was the sole hit the Indians generated against Franklin Central's Gabby Snyder in Saturday's Class 4A state championship at Ben Davis High School, but it produced both runs in a 2-0 victory.
"We knew she was a good pitcher. We watched her pitch in the semistate. We knew what to expect," Portage coach Lisa Hayes said. "She shut us down, but Lauren came through at the biggest time."
For three innings, only two Indians put the ball in play. Snyder fanned seven, retiring nine in a row after hitting Jalise McKnight, leading off the bottom of the first. She grazed Haley Hodges in the fourth, but was one strike away from getting out of the inning when Kiley Jones dug in to win a full-count battle, fouling off four pitches before earning ball four to bring Murray to bat.
"I just kept battling," Jones said. "It was a pretty wide strike zone so I knew anything close, I had to hit. I was feeling a little iffy on the last pitch, but I got on base and Lauren hit them in."
Jones did the rest, shutting out the Flashes on two hits, only one of which left the infield.
With just two strikeouts, defense was crucial for Jones (16-4), though Franklin Central wasn't exactly ringing line drives all over the yard.
"They weren't getting a lot of the ball," said Hodges, Portage's catcher. "They had aggressive hitters and they were swinging a lot, but they didn't hit anything too hard. (Jones) was pitching on the corners. It was mostly easy plays."
Snyder became the second straight pitcher to lose the 4A title game with a one-hitter, suffering the same fate as Huntington North's Erin Rethlake last season. Neither pitcher issued a walk.
"For us, it takes going one time through (the order)," Hayes said. "The girls were more confident. You could see it as soon as they'd step in the batter's box. "