KNIGHTSTOWN — After close games in the opening round and semifinal, in Friday’s championship Eastern Hancock showed why they were the Class 2A Sectional 41 favorites.

The No. 3 ranked Royals used an eight-run second inning, and a combined no-hitter from junior Kenna Stewart and senior Tatem Adams to knock off Northeastern, 16-0, and claim their eighth sectional championship.

“I don’t really have words right now. It’s just good knowing that we don’t have that awful feeling we had on the way home last year at this time,” senior center fielder Brooklyn Willis said. “Every time I put on this jersey it could be my last time, so that makes it extra special. There’s just no words to describe it.”

The sectional win was redemption for last season and a weight off the shoulders of the players who were part of last year’s team that lost in the championship 6-5 in eight innings to Union County.

“It was a gut punch last year,” Adams said. “We all remember that feeling and wanted to come back with some fight this year and really make a run.”

All aspects of what has made the Royals one of the top teams in the state were on display Friday evening.

The bats — which had been underwhelming to the team’s standard as of late — were hot early on, while the pitching was exactly what’s come to be expected, if not better.

In the second inning, the Royals nearly matched their combined run total of nine from the first two games of the tournament.

Twelve batters came to the plate, six recorded hits and nine reached base.

“You could look at the scores from the first two games and see that wasn’t like us,” Willis said. “We were waiting to break through, and tonight happened to be that night.”

Lilli Ringer started things off with a single and Emily Hodges reached on an error before an Emree Truitt single drove them both in and gave Eastern Hancock all the runs they would need.

They weren’t done there.

A few batters later Camryn Blue tripled and drove in two runs, later in the inning Addisyn Trackwell crushed her second home run of the season off the scoreboard for two more runs, and Hodges capped off the frame with an RBI-double.

“It felt good to get the bats going, and hopefully those stay consistent the rest of the postseason,” Eastern Hancock first-year head coach David Trackwell said. “It was a lot of focus on our parts, and we just had a gameplan when we went up to the plate. We’ve been talking a lot over the last few days about our approach and being patient. Tonight the girls made some adjustments, and it worked.”

A two-run home run by Willis in the third inning pushed the lead to double digits. The blast was Willis’ 17th of the season, tying her for the school record with teammate Sammie Bolding who hit 17 in 2022.

The runs were more than enough for the Royals pitching duo of Stewart and Adams.

“After the other two games, this one was definitely relaxing. Pitching with that lead, if you slip up it’s just losing the no-hitter, but that’s not as important,” Adams said. “It was nice being able to sit back and just do our job.”

They combined for a no-hitter, allowed just three base runners, and combined to strike out 12. It was par for the course for the Royals tandem in the circle.

“That 1-2 punch between those two has been phenomenal. They both bring something different to the table that offsets the other so well,” Trackwell said. “It’s amazing to watch those two. They both love each other and have such good chemistry.”

Over the three sectional games, they allowed just four runs, with all four coming in the seventh inning against Shenandoah.

In 22 innings, the two allowed only seven hits and struck out 46.

“I love pitching with Kenna. We 1-2 punch it all the time and we both support each other,” Adams said. “Backing each other up is really the difference. Being able to have another pitcher that can support you is huge.”

Stewart got the start and threw three innings, walked two and struck out eight. Adams entered in the fourth and closed things out, allowing no base runners and striking out four over the final two innings.

“This feels amazing,” Stewart said. “It’s my first year really playing high school ball, so to win a sectional is just amazing.”

The Royals tacked on three more runs in the fourth and fifth for the 16-0 win.

Eastern Hancock will travel to Triton Central on Tuesday for the regional championship beginning at 6 p.m.

Eastern Hancock 16, Northeastern 0

Eastern Hancock (25-2);082;33;—;16;18;0

Northeastern (15-8);000;00;—0;0;1

Kenna Stewart, Tatem Adams (4) and Camyrn Blue; Mackenzie Johnson, Addisyn Wright (3), Clare Lopeman (5) and Karri Gammon. 2B: EH – Emily Hodges. 3B: EH – Camryn Blue. HR: EH – Addisyn Trackwell (2), Brooklyn Willis (17), Hodges (2). WP: Stewart (12-1). LP: Johnson (7-4).