For The Daily Reporter
NEW PALESTINE — Senior Night couldn’t have gone much better for the top-ranked Class 3A New Palestine softball team.
With a chance to clinch a share of its third consecutive Hoosier Heritage Conference championship, its seniors ensured that the game was over quickly, as the Dragons defeated Delta 14-0 in five innings.
The win pushed New Palestine’s overall record to 21-2 and 6-1 in the HHC, and cemented a split of the conference title with Yorktown and Shelbyville.
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“These girls have been outstanding kids, young ladies and great softball players,” New Palestine coach Ed Marcum said.
Five seniors played their last regular-season home game for the Dragons, and all will be playing collegiate softball: Brooke Butler at Hanover, Issy Hoyt at Purdue, Casey Lehman at Huntington, Abbey White at Chattanooga State, while Tara Morey is still considering offers.
“Senior Night is usually emotional, so you never really know how they’re going to come out, but I really couldn’t have scripted it any better for tonight,” Marcum said.
The game got off to a thundering start as Madison Whitaker belted a three-run home run to put the Dragons on the board. From there, they never looked back.
Whitaker finished the night 3-for-3 with a double, triple, and a home run. Elisha Barker followed Whitaker with what appeared to be another home run that hit the very top of the fence, which was about the only thing that went wrong for the team on their celebratory night.
It was the fourth inning that put the game fully out of reach. The inning featured two unique three-run home runs by seniors Issy Hoyt and Tara Morey.
First, Hoyt hit her 24th career home run to left-center field, which put her alone in the top spot for career home runs hit at New Palestine.
Hoyt finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, including a rocket of a single in her last regular-season at-bat.
“I woke up at 4:30 a.m. this morning and realized Issy could get the school home run record,” Marcum said. “I keep those stats to myself so I don’t think she knew about it, but I couldn’t sleep after realizing she had a shot.”
Later in the inning, Morey sliced the ball down the left-field line and legged out an inside-the-park home run.
After Barker pitched the first two innings, Marcum inserted senior Abbey White to finish off the game. White shut down the Eagles and ended her senior season easily fielding a sharply hit ball up the middle and throwing out the runner at first.
“Abbey just moved here this year from Fort Wayne, but she really came in and fit right in and has been a great leader for us,” Marcum said.
A conference title was one of the Dragons’ goals, but their focus now shifts to the state tournament, set to begin Tuesday night for New Palestine as they will take on Indianapolis Marshall in their opening postseason game.
“I like our chances going into it this year,” Marcum reluctantly said. “But all it takes is one bad night and you’re out of it.”
New Palestine 14, Delta 0
Delta (9-14, 1-6 HHC);000;00;—;0;1;1
New Palestine (21-2, 6-1 HHC);482;0x;—;14;12;2
WP: Abbey White (6-0) LP: Taylen Martzall
HR: Issy Hoyt, Madison Whitaker, and Tara Morey (NP).
Notables: Madison Whitaker 3-3, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI; Issy Hoyt 2-3, HR, 3 RBI