Frosh Walden hits two homers, drives in six

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — Many of the faces are different, but the Eastern Hancock softball team hasn’t missed a beat – or many pitches – in its follow-up to a 2013 regional title.

The Class 2A No. 10 Royals throttled Morristown 17-1 on Tuesday to improve to 6-1 on the year and 3-0 in the Mid-Hoosier Conference.

Freshman Brooke Walden hit a pair of home runs and collected six RBI in the Royals’ fourth contest with at least 14 runs scored so far this young season. Fellow ninth-grader Savannah Patterson added a home run and three RBI, while freshman Caitlin Richmond (3-1) threw a two-hitter for the five-inning victory.

“I think for this team coming in with a new coach and just a whole new perspective on how we do things, the team has done amazing with that,” said Sue Anderson, the Royals’ first-year head coach who inherited a squad that went 24-7 while capturing the program’s inaugural regional trophy. “I think we have exceeded some expectations in certain areas. I think we had a lot of freshmen step up and play exceptionally well for us.

“However, we still have a lot that we need to work on.”

Of the 10 Royals to step to the plate Tuesday, seven are underclassmen. Among players with at least 10 at-bats this spring, sophomore outfielder Jordan Pierson leads the club in batting at .593, followed by freshmen Peyton West (.480) and Kayci Gilbert (.476).

Walden, a third baseman forced into pitching duty as returning ace Darby Shaw works her way back from a concussion, leads all Royals with four home runs and 15 RBI. Senior shortstop Emily Reger ranks second with three round-trippers and nine RBI. Outfielder Skyler Overleese joined Reger as EH’s only senior starters Tuesday, and she’s hitting .412 for the season.

Walden is 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA on the mound, and she, Richmond (3.82 ERA) and Shaw (1-0, 1.00 ERA) will each likely see work during the Royals’ string of four straight games this week.

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