MOORESVILLE -- In Mooresville’s regular-season win over Shelbyville, Zoey Kugelman pitched a gem to lead the Pioneers over the Golden Bears.
In Tuesday’s Class 4A regional championship game, Kugelman did not get the call to start the game in the circle. So she set forth to do damage at the plate.
The Mooresville junior had three hits, including a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning, and Kendall Lowry drove in three runs to lead the Pioneers to a 4-1 victory and the program’s first softball regional title.
Class 4A, No. 9 Mooresville (29-3-1) will face 4A No. 12 Pendleton Heights (24-5-1) in the second semifinal game Saturday at the Center Grove Semistate. The first semifinal pits 4A No. 1 Roncalli (29-3-1) against either Evansville North (24-3) or 4A No. 11 Floyd Central (26-7).
Kugelman set the tone early for Mooresville blasting a 2-2 pitch off Shelbyville starting pitcher Cheyenne Eads out of the facility for an early lead.
An Alex Cooper triple and Lowry groundout extended the lead to 2-0 before the inning was over.
Shelbyville, who finished the season 20-9, spent the first half of the game searching for the “big” hit.
Mooresville starting pitcher Reagan Bauer loaded the bases in the first and third innings but escaped unscathed with key strikeouts. The Golden Bears finished the game leaving 10 runners on base.
“We left the bases loaded twice. We were a hit away from cracking that game open,” said Shelbyville head coach Mark Hensley, who informed the team after the game that he will be stepping down as coach. “When you leave 10 on base, especially seven through the first three innings, that could have been a totally different game.”
Two walks and a fielder’s choice in the top of the first inning loaded the bases for Shelbyville but Bauer struck out Riley Maulden to end the threat.
In the third, Pogue had a leadoff double and Bauer walked Stieneker and Abby Brenner to load the bases but struck out Maulden and Destiney Johnson to end the inning.
“It was a tough (loss) because we did so much work to get to this point and I felt like we had everything about where we wanted it and we just could not get over the hump,” said Hensley, who has led Shelbyville to all four of its sectional championships during his tenure.
The fifth inning sealed Shelbyville’s fate. Kugelman reached base on a two-out single and moved to second on a throwing error. With first base open, Shelbyville intentionally walked Cooper – the Indiana University commit, and Lowry made them pay with a two-run double to make it 4-0.
Shelbyville’s lone run came on senior Kylee Edwards’ 16th home run of the season in what fittingly was her final at bat as a Golden Bear.
“Kylee’s last at bat was a home run and Hailey’s last pitch was a strikeout. Even though we didn’t win the game, that was a really nice way to end their careers,” said Hensley.
Pogue, also a senior, pitched the sixth inning and struck out two of the three batters she faced. She will play collegiately at the University of Indianapolis next season.
Shelbyville graduates four – Edwards, Pogue, Brenner and Riley Maulden -- from a squad that added a third straight season with at least 20 wins and back-to-back Hoosier Heritage Conference titles.
Over the last three seasons, the Golden Bears were 68-20 (18-3 in HHC games) and won two sectionals and a regional title and played in the 2022 Class 4A Semistate championship game.
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