CHARLOTTESVILLE — Every time the Eastern Hancock Royals step up to the plate, there’s one expectation.
On Tuesday against their top rival, Knightstown, the Royals achieved it — 14 times.
“That’s are goal. We want to try to score every inning,” Eastern Hancock head softball coach Pat Medler said. “If that works that way, we have a chance to win ball games.”
Victory was never in doubt for the unbeaten Royals as they run ruled the visiting Panthers 14-4 in six innings behind an 11-hit outburst, capped by a bases loaded RBI walk by senior Kaysi Gilbert.
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The Royals trailed once the entire game, down 2-0 after the top half of the first inning. Putting together a three-run bottom half, Eastern Hancock’s offense didn’t stop, scoring in every inning with a trifecta of three-run frames.
“Our outfield is new and our pitchers are new, so we knew we had to rely on our hitting to keep us in ball games. It’s been working that way right now,” Medler said.
The Royals had one hit or more each inning, and all but two of their 12 batters reached base at least once.
Sophomore Faithe Webster led the group by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a double.
Gilbert wasn’t far behind, going 1-for-2 with three runs scored, two RBIs and three walks, including the game-ending at-at when she drew four straight balls.
Micah Black, a junior, was 2-for-4 with an RBI, and junior Bree Ashby crushed a solo home run over the Royals’ center-field fence in the second inning. She was 1-for-2.
Brooke Walden, Peyton West and Skyla Smith all recorded doubles. West’s drove in a run in the Royals’ three-run second. Smith’s came with two outs in the sixth, which extended the inning as Eastern Hancock loaded the bases twice before closing the game out.
“It’s incredible just knowing that even if you do miss your spot that you have backup behind you and they will get the play for you,” Bittinger said.
“It happens. It’s part of being a pitcher,” Bittinger remarked on the home runs. “I just have to do my best and I have great defense behind.”
“We’ve had bad starts every single ball game. We gave up two on a couple of mistakes today, but our hitters are keeping us in it,” Medler said.
“She’s obviously a slapper, but she can put it on the ground. She had two line drives in the outfield and that’s hard to make a play on coming off a left-handed bat,” Medler said.
“If you get both of those slappers at nine and one back-to-back, it makes it tough to make plays on them,” Medler said. “I hope it continues.”
“To me it’s not a rivalry, we’re just trying to get better every game, and as long as that works, by the end of the year we’ll be ready to be competitive with anybody,” Medler said.
“Kaysi Gilbert has been on fire,” Medler said. “Everyone is putting the ball in play.”
“A couple of uneared runs in the first, and she gave up a couple of home runs, and that was it,” Medler said. “I can’t complain. She threw five innings last year.”
Eastern Hancock 14, Knightstown 4, 6 innings
WP: Elise Bittinger (EH). LP: Georgee Lawhorne (K).
HR: Bree Ashby (EH), Vivian Goodpaster (K), Robyn Clark (K).
2B: Faithe Webster (EH), Brooke Walden (EH), Peyton West (EH), Skyla Smith (EH).