Daily Reporter Correspondent
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The final tally wasn’t a pleasant sight for the Eastern Hancock softball team Friday, falling to Shelbyville 16-3 in six innings.
Through most of the contest, however, the 2A Royals were able to compete with the undefeated Class 4A Golden Bears (4-0). The host Royals had an answer for just about everything that Shelbyville delivered.
“I thought we looked really good for the first five innings,” said Eastern Hancock head coach Sue Anderson.
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“But it seemed like we thought they were going to lay down in the sixth.”
Down 3-0 heading to the bottom of the first, the Royals responded with a double by Jordan Pierson. She was pushed on to the third after a sacrifice fly to center by Kaysi Gilbert, and a wild pitch let Pierson trot safely to home for their first score.
In the second, the Golden Bears’ Katie Lux managed an infield single and a Kendra Sizemore two-run shot made the score 5-1.
Solid hitting from the Royals in the bottom of the third came in the form of Savannah Patterson, who hit a solo home run to left to cut the Golden Bears’ lead down to three. Two batters later, Brooke Walden found a seam for a base hit and had the Royals looking for more.
Shelbyville tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Lux was able to work the count and reached base after her fourth called ball. With some good base running and a double by TeAnn Bringle, she was able to scamper home.
Down 5-2 to end the third and refusing to quit, the Royals started off the bottom half of the fourth with a double by Peyton West. Niesler took out some of her frustration on the Golden Bears and netted a base hit to drive in another run for the Royals.
Some heads up base running kept the inning alive for the Royals after a hard-hit shot was drilled right to Shelbyville’s Taylor Perry. The split-second decision to dive back to first by pinch runner Katelinn Cavaletto avoided the double play.
Patterson continued her hitting streak and grabbed a double to put runners on second and third. However, the Royals got a little too eager and were thrown out at third after a dropped strike to end the inning.
They followed up their solid fourth with an equally stellar fifth. The Royals grabbed three more hits but were unable to drive home anymore runs.
The strong hitting from the Royals against the large-school Golden Bears was a positive, according to Anderson.
“We’re pretty solid at the one through nine spots,” she stated. “The biggest lesson we learned was that we can compete against the bigger schools.”
One of the best hitters for the Royals on Friday was Patterson, who went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run.
Continuing their hitting clinic, Shelbyville did the most damage in the sixth. They added nine more runs and 10 more hits. The Golden Bears nearly went through the lineup twice in the sixth frame.
The Royals also struggled at times on defense.
“It’s tough for me to say since I’m not the one out there,” said Anderson. “Again, it seemed as though we thought they were going to let up in the sixth”
Up next for the Royals is Mid-Hoosier Conference rival Hauser (1-1, 1-0 MHC). The game that was originally scheduled for Thursday will be played noon today at Hauser. The Jets will play fellow conference rival North Decatur at 10 a.m. prior to their game against the Royals.