Gorches: Portage’s battery of Jones, Hodges a model of efficiency
June 8, 2013 11:40PM
Portage's Abby Alexander is congratulated by teamates in the dugout after crossing home plate to score a run against Franklin Central during the 4A Softball State Finals game held at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis on Saturday June 8, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 10, 2013 7:02AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Efficiency of motion. That’s the best way — the only way — to describe Kiley Jones and Haley Hodges on Saturday night in Portage’s 2-0 victory over Franklin Central in the Class 4A softball state final at Ben Davis High School.
Pitch count doesn’t matter that much in softball, whether it’s high school, college or professional. The girls have rubber arms and unless they toss two or more long games in one day, being tired isn’t a factor.
But when the pitch count is so ridiculously low that it’s unfathomable, it definitely makes a difference.
Jones only threw 53 pitches in her 16th victory of her sophomore season. On the other side, Franklin pitcher Gabby Snyder threw well over 100 pitches with 10 strikeouts.
The most pitches Jones had in an inning was nine, and that came in the bottom of the seventh when Franklin got a fluke bloop hit about 12 feet in front of the plate that Jones nearly caught.
The best inning was five pitches in the second in which the outs were a ground ball to second baseman Dalton Minor, a grounder to third baseman Alexis Johnson and a pop out to shortstop Kaitlin Doud.
And don’t sell the fifth inning short in which Franklin got its first hit to lead off the frame — a single by Delaney Thompson after a four-pitch at-bat — but Jones got the next three hitters out on one pitch each.
As Crash Davis once told Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh in the baseball movie Bull Durham, “Strikeouts are boring. Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls — it’s more democratic.”
You couldn’t get much more democratic than Jones on Saturday with just two strikeouts — both in the third inning — 13 ground outs and four harmless pop outs.
They were aggressive hitters,” said Hodges, who was named the Mental Attitude Award winner after the game. “(Jones) was doing a good job of locating her pitches on the corners and getting ground outs. It was probably the sharpest I’ve seen her all season.”
Hodges, who didn’t end her career like she began it four years ago with a home run (though she had two long foul balls down the left field line in the bottom of the sixth), but will take the state champion medal and Mental Attitude Award with pride.
“This is crazy,” she said. “Not a lot of people get to say they won their last game as a senior, and we get to say that. It’s awesome.”
The efficiency from Jones had to be be credited to Hodges, too, since she has been calling all the pitches since midway through her freshman season.
“Things just worked out for the team today,” a modest Jones said. “We had no errors and the players behind me fielded the ground balls.”
As for her individual accolade, Hodges will be coming back to Portage next year to remind herself of the last game of her career.
“It’ll be great to see myself up (on the wall) in the hallway with athletes like Tori Bliss (who earned the Mental Attitude Award in girls track in 2011) and others who have done great things at Portage,” Hodges said.