To get back into contention for the Hoosier Heritage Conference softball title, Shelbyville had to end New Palestine’s 34-game HHC win streak.
In a game loaded with collegiate softball commits, Shelbyville’s two biggest led the way.
Karissa Hamilton hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning and scored three runs. Kylee Edwards had two hits and scored three more runs to lead the Golden Bears, ranked No. 11 in Class 4A, to a 7-5 win over 4A No. 2 New Palestine Thursday in Shelbyville.
The Golden Bears improved to 10-3 this season and 3-1 in the HHC standings. New Palestine suffered its first loss and dropped to 11-1-1 (2-1 HHC).
Shelbyville, New Palestine and Class 3A, No. 1 Yorktown all have one loss in the conference. Yorktown beat Shelbyville but lost to New Palestine.
“Since the beginning of the season, one of our goals was to win conference,” said Hamilton, who will play collegiately next season at nationally-ranked Kentucky. “We knew New Pal would be a tough game but we were so ready to bring it on. We came into this game with a chip on our shoulder and didn’t let anything get into our heads. We wanted this.”
With the win, Shelbyville took possession of the HHC’s traveling trophy (photo) that has exclusively belonged to New Palestine since 2016 when it last lost a conference game to Shelbyville.
“I’ve never seen this bat in my life,” said Hamilton. “This is a pretty special present and it’s pretty awesome. I am super proud of my team. We need to carry this mojo into the rest of the season.”
Cheyenne Eads struggled with her control the entire game but worked her way out of trouble several times. The sophomore allowed nine hits and five walks while striking out six Dragons.
“Obviously this wasn’t her best game. She was good … not great but her defense helped her out,” said Shelbyville head coach Mark Hensley. “She had a couple situations where she had some pretty big strikeouts.
“She was pitching well at times but had five walks (two of the walks scored). You will not win a lot of games giving up not quite a walk an inning. She knows that. She couldn’t locate all the time but she had some times where she pitched really well.”
Hamilton spotted Shelbyville a quick 1-0 lead with a leadoff home run – her sixth of the season. Edwards, who is verbally committed to Mississippi State University, reached on an error and used ground outs from Addie Stieneker and Hailey Pogue to score to make it 2-0.
The bottom part of New Palestine’s lineup did all the damage against the Golden Bears.
In the top of the second, Paige Ernstes reached on an infield single, Alyssa Mumaw walked and Sydney Oliver delivered a run-scoring single to cut the lead in half.
Leadoff hitter Alaina Miller, a University of Illinois recruit, smashed a shot straight at centerfielder Brooke Lipperd. The Franklin College recruit could not snare it and two runs scored.
In the third inning, Hamilton walked and went to third on Edwards’ single. The throw from Oliver in centerfield got past Ernstes at third base and Hamilton scored.
Edwards crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Stieneker. It was the freshman’s team-leading 21st RBI of the season.
New Palestine tied the game once again in the fourth when Oliver singled and advanced to second base as Maddie Engle was thrown out at home by Lipperd. Oliver scored on Grace Paquette’s single to even the score.
The fifth inning was the biggest for Shelbyville. Freshman Kali Laycock tripled after Oliver dove and missed the ball.
Hamilton walked for the second time and Edwards delivered Laycock with her second hit of the game to make it 5-4.
Pogue then delivered the difference maker, plating both Hamilton and Edwards to give the Golden Bears a 3-run lead.
New Palestine scratched a run across in the sixth when Miller plated Oliver, who scored three runs in the game, but that would be all the Dragons could muster.
Eads improved to 6-2 this season.
Katie Kottlowski, who was not scheduled to start in the circle, took the loss. The Taylor University commit was pressed into action when Alexa Holman was scratched just before the coaches meeting.
Holman, who will pitch at IUPUI next season, was injured in New Palestine’s 4-1 win over 4A No. 10 Center Grove Friday.
“(Kottlowski) is almost better than almost everybody’s No. 1 that we’ve seen all year,” said Hensley. “There are maybe one or two girls we’ve seen better than her. She is still a really good pitcher.”
New Palestine has two games scheduled Saturday. The first is against 4A No. 1 Roncalli (13-0) followed by a contest against Marist (12-2-1) from Chicago, Illinois.
Shelbyville has Alumni Night scheduled for tonight’s game against Batesville (1-11).
Notes: New Palestine catcher Aglaia Rudd is headed to Purdue Fort Wayne to play softball. … Shelbyville outfielder Caitlyn Richardson is committed to play softball at Manchester University rounding out eight confirmed commits on the two teams’ roster. … The Dragons’ only non-decision this season came in the season opener at 2A No. 12 Eastern Hancock. The two teams were tied 5-5 in the eighth inning when the game was called due to darkness. … Shelbyville’s three losses are to 4A No. 8 Columbus North (2-0), top-ranked Yorktown (2-1) and unranked Connersville (9-4), who is 11-1 this season.
(Photo, from left: seniors Brooke Lipperd, Kiley McIver, Caitlyn Richardson and Karissa Hamilton pose with the HHC traveling trophy)