CHARLOTTESVILLE — The departure of a strong senior class and the transition to a new head coach has done little to temper the expectations for Eastern Hancock.

With the softball season getting underway Monday, the Royals — who ended last season 21-7 — are looking to continue the success they’ve found the last few seasons.

Four straight Mid-Eastern Conference titles, sectional titles in 2019, 2021 and 2022 and a regional title in 2022 are accomplishments this year’s team is looking to build off of.

“It should be another great run,” first-year head coach David Trackwell said. “We definitely have the team to do it, that’s for sure.”

An assistant coach with the team for the last four seasons, 2024 will be Trackwell’s first year as head coach. He takes over for the Royals all-time leader in wins, Terry Stephens, who accumulated a 102-31-2 record over his five years as head coach dating back to 2017. He led the Royals to four conference titles, three sectional championships and a regional title.

“Everything has been going extremely smooth with this being my fourth year at Eastern,” Trackwell said. “I’ve been working alongside Terry for the last couple of years so that has made the transition that much smoother.”

The Royals roster will be anchored by a pair of seniors who have been key pieces of the lineup since they were freshmen — Brooklyn Willis and Sammie Bolding.

Willis, a University of Indianapolis signee, commands the outfield for the Royals in center field. In limited games last year due to an injury, she led the team with a .569 batting average from the leadoff spot. In just 19 games played she accumulated 32 hits, seven home runs, 26 RBI and scored 32 runs.

While Willis leads the outfield, Bolding commands the infield from shortstop. Last season, the Toledo University signee hit .531, had 43 hits, scored 48 runs, had 44 RBI and smashed 15 home runs.

The home runs, hits, RBI and runs were all the top marks on the team, and her batting average was second to Willis.

“Sammie and Brooklyn will help provide at the top of the order and will help bring a lot of that power that we’re losing,” Trackwell said.

The two, along with the rest of the roster, will have to make up for the loss of three strong senior hitters in Grace Stapleton, Kaylee Kline and Sammie’s sister, Emma Bolding.

Kline was third on the team in average (.472), second in hits (42) and RBI (39) and hit nine home runs, Emma Bolding was second on the team in home runs behind her sister with 11, was third in RBI (36) and hit .427, and Stapleton was second on the team in runs scored (36) and added 16 stolen bases while hitting .350.

Helping to replace some of that power and RBI potential, according to Trackwell, will be freshman first baseman Chyan Evans.

“Chyan has a lot of potential to bring some power to the lineup,” Trackwell said. “Emma and Kaylee were big power hitters and I feel like Chyan can step right into that role and provide that power as a freshman.”

Replacing Kline behind the plate is another freshman, Camryn Blue.

“She’s [Blue] extremely athletic, very coachable and eager to learn. From the defensive side she is going to be a huge asset,” Trackwell said. “Offensively she still has some work to do, but she has a lot of speed. We’re trying to get her to utilize more of a small-ball style to put some pressure on the opposing defense.”

While those two enter the lineup as freshmen, a pair of sophomores who were in their shoes last year look to take another leap forward.

Lilli Ringer and coach Trackwell’s daughter, Addisyn Trackwell, were both key members of the team a year ago.

Trackwell, who plays third base, hit .420, scored 24 runs and added 21 RBI. Ringer hit .447 and scored 34 runs and had 13 stolen bases.

“Lilli and Addisyn both have a season under their belt and their development will help offset the loss of the seniors too,” coach Trackwell said. “I expect them to be in the .500s average. That’s the goal for them. We want them to step up with the new incoming freshmen too and pass it down and show them that you can have success as a freshman.”

In the circle, the Royals look to replace Madison Stephens with a pair of pitchers. Stephens pitched in 23 games for the team and finished with a 12-1 record and a 2.55 earned run average.

The team’s No. 2 pitcher behind her last season, senior Tatem Adams, along with Pendleton Heights transfer Kenna Stewart, will spearhead the rotation this season.

Adams threw 51.1 innings last season and accumulated a 2.18 earned run average and struck out 63 batters.

“They’ll be a really good 1-2 combo either way you spin it, whether Tatem starts or Kenna starts,” coach Trackwell said. “They both offer some various pitches that will give us the leading edge against other teams.”

Rounding out the team’s starting lineup will be senior Cameron Spegal and Emily Hodges along with junior Emree Truitt.

All three appeared in over 20 games for the Royals last season, with Truitt hitting .348, Hodges batting .338 and Spegal hitting .268.

Eastern Hancock opens up the season with a pair of games against Class 4A opponents. The Royals open the season on Monday at home against Hancock County foe New Palestine and on Tuesday they host Brownsburg.

2024 Eastern Hancock Softball Schedule


March 18;vs. New Palestine;5:30 p.m.

March 19;vs. Brownsburg;5:30 p.m.

March 21;at Hagerstown;5:30 p.m.

March 22;at Knightstown;5:30 p.m.

April 9;at Monroe-Central;5:30 p.m.

April 10;at Warren Central;5:30 p.m.

April 11;vs. Cowan;5:30 p.m.

April 13;at Tri;10 a.m.

April 15;at Hauser;5:30 p.m.

April 16;at Blue River Valley;5:30 p.m.

April 18;vs. Wapahani;5:30 p.m.

April 19;at Triton Central;5:30 p.m.

April 23;at Daleville;5:30 p.m.

April 24;vs. Northeastern;5:30 p.m.

April 25;vs. Randolph Southern;5:30 p.m.

April 29;vs. Heritage Christian;5:30 p.m.

April 30;at Cambridge City Lincoln;5:30 p.m.

May 1;vs. Frankton;5:30 p.m.

May 2;at Union County;5:30 p.m.

May 3;at Lapel;5:30 p.m.

May 6;vs. North Decatur;5:30 p.m.

May 8;vs. Shenandoah;5:30 p.m.

May 9;vs. Anderson;5:30 p.m.

May 11;at Connersville Spartan Rumble;9 a.m.

May 13;vs. Pendleton Heights;5:30 p.m.

May 14;at Wes-Del;5:30 p.m.

May 16;vs. Lawrence North;5:30 p.m.