FAIRLAND — Focused on a “team first” attitude, Eastern Hancock head coach Sue Anderson went back to work.
After suffering a 5-2 loss to Cambridge City Lincoln in last year’s sectional title contest, the Royals’ leader decided to alter her coaching style — stressing the importance of togetherness.
The result was a 16-3 regular season and 7-1 mark in the Mid-Hoosier Conference. And after thumping Irvington Prep Academy on Tuesday, Class 2A No. 16 Eastern Hancock rolled past host Triton Central 12-0 on Wednesday for the Sectional 42 championship.
The title is the Royals’ (18-3) third in six seasons.
Kaysi Gilbert led the offense with a 4-for-5 effort, including a double and two RBIs. Brooke Walden and Micah Black each homered, as well. The deep ball was Black’s fifth of the season as Eastern Hancock had every starter — plus Reagan Hunt — register at least one hit in the win.
“We have to give credit all the way around our team,” Eastern Hancock head coach Sue Anderson said. “We wanted to show what we were made of, and we capitalized when we needed to.
“All season long, this was our first goal and first step. It’s so fun to see them keep that attitude (teamwork) through the whole season.”
Darby Shaw (17-2) was nearly untouchable on the mound as the senior finished with 11 strikeouts and allowed just four hits. She has now sent 158 batters down on strikes this year.
“We just want her to get stronger as the game goes on,” Anderson said. “She continued to do that tonight.”
Added Shaw, “Really everything (was working). I’ve been working on my rise ball, and I got a couple girls with my changeup. It’s a rare thing; there’s usually something that doesn’t work.”
Walden finished with a game-high four RBIs while leadoff hitter Jordan Pierson added two of her own after a 2-for-5 effort at the plate. West, who led the team in average during the regular season, added two singles and a walk for the Royals, who finished with 16 total hits.
Shaw helped her cause in the top of the second inning, sending a SAC fly to right field, which would score Black for a 1-0 Royals lead.
Meanwhile, the senior was dominating on the mound, collecting four strikeouts through two frames. With the help of West, the team’s catcher, Shaw has been able to comfortably adjust throughout games this season.
“She (Peyton West) is really supportive behind the plate,” Shaw said. “I know she will frame stuff and block everything. We work well together, and it’s good to have someone I trust to keep me sane.”
Eastern Hancock, after a relatively slow start by its standard, decided to challenge to Triton Central defense in the fourth inning. With the help of three bunt singles from Faith Webster, Eriel Truitt and Gilbert, the Royals scored five runs to take a commanding 6-1 lead.
“That (small ball) just shows the overall ability of our kids,” Anderson added.
After Walden brought home two more runs in the sixth inning with a towering home run, Eastern Hancock sealed the deal with four insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Shaw would strike out the side for Royals, who scored 44 runs in two sectional games, in the bottom half of the inning.
Eastern Hancock will play the winner of Sectional 41 (at Union County or Knightstown) next Tuesday in a one-game regional.
“We are not going to change our game plan,” Anderson said. “We are going to play the Eastern ball we are used to. And hopefully hit our second goal of the season.”
Eastern Hancock 12, Triton Central 0
EHHS (18-3);010;502;4 -;12;16:0
WP: Darby Shaw (17-2) LP: Maecy Speece (TC).
RBI: Shaw, Pierson 2, Gilbert 2, Black, Walden 4, West (EH). 2B: Gilbert, Hunt (EH). HR: Walden, Black (EH). SB: West (EH).
EHHS: Pierson 2-5 2 RBI, Gilbert 4-5 double two RBI, Walden HR 4 RBI, Black HR, Hunt double, Shaw 11 strikeouts.