INDIANAPOLIS — After Brooke Walden threw to first base for the final out of the Eastern Hancock Royals’ second consecutive sectional championship, she and the rest of her teammates didn’t seem to know how much to celebrate.
There are seemingly bigger goals in mind after beating Triton Central 7-1 for the Class 2A Sectional 42 title.
“We’re trying to have a six-game winning streak,” Royals coach Pat Medler said as his team was posing for pictures with the trophy at home plate. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time and we’ll take them any way we can.”
Despite the lopsided final score, early on it looked as if No. 9 Eastern Hancock may be in for a much tougher battle than its earlier 11-0 win against Triton Central this season. In the Tigers’ first two innings, multiple batters got on base.
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In the first, Royals pitcher Elise Bittinger had runners on second and third with two outs, and shortstop Peyton West calmly fielded a grounder and threw to first to end the threat.
In the second, Bittinger faced first and third with one out, but again West fielded a grounder, looked back the runner at third before getting a force out. Bittinger would get the next hitter to ground out as well.
“I give a lot of credit to Triton Central,” Medler said. “They hit the ball hard all night, and we were just able to field the ones they hit right at us.”
The Royals began to take control in the bottom of the second however. On a two-strike count, West lofted a ball into the wind blowing out to left field for a home run that gave her team a 1-0 lead.
After a single and an error put two runners on base, Royals catcher Eriel Truitt laced a double down the right field line to bring in two more runs. At the end of the inning, the Royals were in control, 4-0.
In the third inning, the Royals tacked on two more runs with aggressive base running. With two outs and no one on, center fielder Micah Black singled. Two errors on the next two hitters and she had scored.
Paige Wickard scored in the inning on a heads up play to scamper home and slide through a blocked plate after a wild pitch.
With a 6-0 lead, Bittinger was able to scatter only singles the rest of the way and only allowed the Tigers to score one run in their comeback attempt.
With the win, the Royals push their record to 21-6 and advance to regional for the second consecutive year, where they will host No. 4 Northeastern, who defeated No. 14 Knightstown 5-4 to win Sectional 41.
Eastern Hancock 7, Triton Central 1
WP: Elise Bittinger LP: Jaime Pyle
HR: Peyton West (EH). 2B: Brooke Walden, Eriel Truitt (EH); Jaime Pyle (TC).
Notables: P. West 1-3, HR, RBI. M. Black 2-3, RBI, 2 R (EH).