CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock softball has been near perfect during the 2024 season.

A 20-2 record, winners of the Connersville Spartan Rumble this past weekend, countless shutouts, and an array of wins over ranked teams.

With the two losses on the season coming to Brownsburg and New Palestine, the one thing plaguing the Royals was Class 4A opponents.

That was until recently.

On Saturday at the Spartan Rumble, they picked up their first win over a 4A team, defeating Columbus East 8-4.

Monday night, they followed that up with another 4A win. This time over a ranked opponent.

At home, the Class 2A third-ranked Royals defeated No. 15 Pendleton Heights 4-3.

“It was definitely nice to finally jump over that hurdle,” Eastern Hancock head coach David Trackwell said. “Pendleton is a great club. We struggled with them last year, so we knew we had to come in and try to keep them off balance and guessing.”

On a night in which the Royals were out-hit seven to five, and had just eight batters reach base as opposed to the Arabians 12, timely hitting and clutch pitching led to the one-run win.

In the third inning, the Arabians struck first with the help of a two-out error by the Royals, but in the bottom half of the inning, a Camryn Blue single and a Brooklyn Willis hit-by-pitch set up senior shortstop Sammie Bolding for a go-ahead three-run blast over the centerfield fence off of Arabians starting pitcher Shelby Messer.

“Messer has done a great job so far this year,” Trackwell said. “Sammie had the big hit which was huge for us to get some momentum after they took the lead.”

An inning later, two free passes allowed by Eastern Hancock starting pitcher Kenna Stewart to start the inning, followed by a pair of Pendleton Heights bunts, trimmed the lead to 3-2.

The Arabians crossed the plate for the third straight inning and tied the game on a Katelin Goodwin double in the fifth inning. She drove in Ari Rector, who singled and stole second base to lead off the frame.

As they did in the third, the Royals wasted no time retaking the lead. This time for good.

A one-out single by Willis started the rally, and later with two outs, Addisyn Trackwell singled to move Willis to third, and Lilli Ringer singled her home for the 4-3 lead.

“The girls started making the adjustments at the plate that we needed to,” coach Trackwell said. “I wish we would’ve done it sooner, but it came at the right time and we were still able to take advantage.”

To close things out, the Royals turned to Tatem Adams in the seventh.

After striking out Rector to lead off the inning, a single by Skylar Baldwin, Goodwin’s second double of the night, and an intentional walk, forced Adams to work out of a bases-loaded jam.

With just one out, she struck out Alana Smith looking, and got Morgan Humble to ground out back to her in the circle.

“That’s awesome to see. For a young kid to come in that situation with the game on the line, she held her composure and did a great job,” the coach said. “She loves it and she wanted the ball. Coming through the lineup for the fourth time, we knew it was time to make a change.”

It wasn’t the first jam Eastern Hancock worked out of throughout the game.

In the second, Stewart struck out Grace Fisher with runners on second and third to end the threat, in the fourth, another strikeout by Stewart stranded a runner at third, and in the fifth and sixth, Pendleton Heights runners were left on second.

“Kenna just stayed focused and didn’t let anything rattle her,” coach Trackwell said. “She was stellar in those situations.”

Stewart allowed five hits and three runs over six innings of work. She struck out seven and walked two.

To go along with Bolding’s three-run blast and Ringer’s go-ahead single, Willis, Trackwell and Emily Hodges all reached base twice.

Eastern Hancock caps of Mid-Eastern Conference play Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on the road at Wes-Del.

Eastern Hancock 4, Pendleton Heights 3

Pendleton Heights (15-9);001;110;0; —;3;7;0

Eastern Hancock (20-2);003:010;x; — ;4;5;1

Shelby Messer and Katelin Goodwin; Kenna Stewart, Tatem Adams (7) and Camryn Blue. 2B: PH – Goodwin 2, Avry Miller. HR: EH – Sammie Bolding (6). WP: Stewart (10-1). LP: Messer (8-5).