Royals celebrate seniors, title

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Normally, Senior Night is reserved for celebrating players’ last home game before graduating. Friday night at Eastern Hancock was no different.

There was, however, additional cause for rejoice: a conference championship.

With a convincing 19-3 win over North Decatur, Eastern Hancock was able to clinch a share of the Mid-Hoosier Conference championship to send seniors Peyton Neisler, Madison Walton, and foreign exchange student Alina Wallau out on a high note.

“Going into the year, our first goal was to win a conference championship,” Royals coach Sue Anderson said. “Last year we had a chance to win it outright against Indian Creek, but we lost the game. So it’s pretty sweet to win it this year.”

The Royals and Hauser each finished 8-1 in the HHC.

Neisler started the game in the pitchers’ circle by giving up three runs on three hits in the top of the first, but she allowed only one hit in her remaining four innings on the mound.

“Peyton has just done what she’s always done, which is play hard and be consistent,” said Anderson. “She’s our workhorse and we rely on her.”

Eastern Hancock (18-4 overall) responded by plating three runs in the bottom of the first to tie the game.

Aggressive Royals baserunning added pressure to a North Decatur defense that finished with eight errors.

In the bottom of the second inning, a double play had Eastern Hancock facing two outs with nobody on base. And then, the floodgates opened. The Royals scored 15 runs to put the outcome of the game beyond a reasonable doubt.

The inning was highlighted by sophomore Brooke Walden’s three run home run over the left field fence. Walden finished the game 3-for-3 with a home run, two doubles, 5 RBIs, and four runs scored. Neisler, Kaysi Gilbert, Peyton West and Darby Shaw also drove in runs for the Royals.

“You don’t see 15 runs scored with two outs very often,” Anderson allowed. “But we treat every at bat like there are no outs, which allows us to stay aggressive and force mistakes.”

The Royals’ new goal awaits next week at Cambridge City Lincoln, where they will take the field Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Class 2A Sectional 41 semifinals against the Monday winner of Centerville-Knightstown.

“Any team in that sectional can win it, which is why we have to stay focused and have that aggressive mindset going into it,” Anderson said.