Class 4A, No. 9 Shelbyville overpowered Greenfield-Central Friday night to secure its first Hoosier Heritage Conference championship since 2016.
The Golden Bears pounded out 16 hits and Kylee Edwards smashed her fourth home run of the season to secure a 14-3 victory and a share of the conference championship with Class 3A, No. 3 Yorktown. With the win, Shelbyville also retained possession of the HHC’s traveling trophy until the 2023 season.
Edwards went 4-for-4 at the plate to raise her team-leading batting average to .586. She had two singles, a double and a home run to drive in four runs.
Addie Stieneker and Hailey Pogue each had three hits and combined to drive in three runs.
Cheyenne Eads improved to 11-4 in the circle, pitching three scoreless innings while striking out five. Aliyah Lewis worked the final two innings to close out the win.
“It was a long time coming,” said Shelbyville head coach Mark Hensley. “We’ve had some teams come through that couldn’t quite get it. Last year’s group, we lost the one game to New Pal and that was our shot to win the conference.”
The Golden Bears had to win four straight conference games after suffering a 2-1 loss to Yorktown on April 16. A 7-5 win over 4A No. 4 New Palestine 12 days later put the squad back on track. The Dragons defeated Yorktown, 4-3 on April 19.
“When we lost to Yorktown earlier in the year we were kind of kicking ourselves but we got a little help and Yorktown ended up losing one so we knew we had a shot,” said Hensley.
Greenfield-Central (15-7, 3-4 HHC) started freshman Madysen Herbert in the circle Friday and she went two innings, allowed three hits and two runs before leaving the game.
Brianna Jack took over in the third inning and Shelbyville erupted for nine runs on 11 hits.
Karissa Hamilton started the third inning with a triple and Edwards, Stieneker and Pogue followed with doubles. Kiley McIver, Eads and Brooke Lipperd kept the hit parade going with consecutive singles and Kali Laycock doubled to score two more.
Edwards’ solo shot capped off the 9-run inning.
Shelbyville (19-5, 6-1 HHC) and Yorktown (21-3, 6-1) share the HHC title with New Palestine (21-3-1, 5-2) finishing third. Class 4A, No. 7 Pendleton Heights (21-6, 4-3) followed in fourth ahead of G-C, Mt. Vernon (11-8, 3-4), New Castle (12-15, 2-6) and Delta (10-14, 0-7).
“It’s no joke in this conference when you’ve got some really, really good teams at the top of it,” said Hensley of the HHC which currently has half of its teams ranked in the top 10.
Shelbyville finishes the regular season with two pieces of hardware – the HHC trophy and the conference’s traveling trophy. Now the Golden Bears turn their attention toward capturing postseason trophies.
Shelbyville won back-to-back sectional titles in 2017 and 2018, with the 2017 title – the first for the program -- coming at Bloomington North High School, site of this year’s sectional.
In the first game Tuesday at 6 p.m., 4A No. 6 Columbus North (18-3), the defending sectional champion, takes on East Central (16-11).
Shelbyville follows at approximately 7:30 p.m. against 4A No. 15 Bloomington South (17-4).
“Their (No. 3 and No. 4) hitters are no joke. We will have to be on our best game against them,” said Hensley. “And we’ve seen pitching very comparable to what they have. Hopefully, we can scratch a few runs on the scoreboard and keep the ball in the park.”
Bloomington South outfielder Jessica Young set a single-season record with 10 home runs. The Western Michigan recruit also has 10 doubles and 43 RBIs.
The Panthers also get production from infielders Kayli Reed (hitting .412 with 30 runs scored) and Lexie McGlothlin (eight home runs, 35 RBIs). McGlothlin will play collegiately at Indiana University Southeast.
Marin Jacobs already has a victory over Columbus North this season and should get the start against Shelbyville. The junior has a 2.03 earned run average this season with 64 strikeouts in 86 innings.
If not Jacobs, Bloomington South will turn to sophomore Morgan Cockerill (1.94 ERA, 49 strikeouts in 47 innings).
Shelbyville will counter with Eads in the circle. The sophomore has 111 strikeouts in 89 innings and a 1.89 ERA.
Bloomington South will try to slow down the top half of Shelbyville’s lineup. Hamilton, Edwards, Stieneker, Pogue and McIver are hitting a combined .446 with 70 extra-base hits, including 20 home runs.
“I think we are as ready as we can be,” said Hensley, who leads a team into the postseason with five losses all to state-ranked opponents.
If Shelbyville wins Tuesday, it would advance to face Columbus East (8-16-1) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Golden Bears defeated the Olympians, 11-2 on April 22.
The Columbus North-East Central winner plays at 6 p.m. Thursday against Bloomington North (9-11).
The sectional championship game follows on Friday at 7 p.m.
The one-game May 31 regional would be hosted by the Bloomington North Sectional champion.
The opponent would be the Mooresville Sectional champion. The six-team field includes No. 2 Whiteland (22-2), No. 3 Mooresville (26-3) and No. 9 Center Grove (18-8).