NEW PALESTINE — Despite a deep, talented roster that has carried the New Palestine Dragons to the top ranking in Class 3A, sometimes there is no escaping the Issy Hoyt show.
Wednesday’s Sectional 26 championship game was one of those nights. Behind two three-run home runs by the senior, the Dragons won their first sectional championship since 2011 and eleventh all-time, 11-1 over the Bishop Chatard Trojans.
“Big players step up in big games,” Dragons coach Ed Marcum said in his drenched T-shirt after getting a water-cooler shower. “Two three-run homers are great, but of course girls had to get on base for her to do that.”
In the top of the first inning, Ashley Prange and Casey Lehman reached base on an error and single, respectively. Up came Hoyt, the school’s all-time home run leader, who blasted the ball well over the center field fence to give the Dragons an early 3-0 lead.
The Trojans would take a bit of the sting of that home run away by scoring a run of their own in the bottom of the first. In their half of the second inning, the Trojans loaded the bases with one out. Dragons junior Elisha Barker, who went on to win her 16th game of the season, pitched out of the jam beautifully, inducing two weak ground outs to escape unscathed.
“Elisha didn’t have her best stuff at the beginning of the game,” Marcum said. “But getting out of that jam was huge and gave us the momentum to finish out the game strong.”
Hoyt would strike again to put the game out of reach, again driving in Prange and Lehman with a home run that just eclipsed the wall and the glove of the Trojans’ right fielder.
Fittingly, Hoyt would drive in the run that put the game in the 10-run rule category, with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
“It feels great to win (the sectional),” Marcum stated. “We made it four years in a row down at Center Grove and just couldn’t take the next step. … But we know that playing for New Palestine means everyone wants to beat you, so we’ve got to bring our best game every night.”
With the win, the Dragons will travel to Lebanon to take on the fifth-ranked Lebanon Tigers on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Class 3A Sectional 26
New Palestine 11, Bishop Chatard 1
WP: Elisha Barker (16-2) LP: Maggie Kasenbrock
2B: Prange, O’Connor, Davis, Lehman (NP); Tates, Kasenbrock (BC). HR: Issy Hoyt 2 (NP).
Notables: Issy Hoyt 2-3, 2 HR, 7 RBI; Casey Lehman 4-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Abby Davis 2-2, 2B, BB, RBI (NP).