Shelbyville’s seniors did not need four full seasons to make a significant impact on the Golden Bears’ softball program. SHS seniors Addi Weaver, Katie Mathies, Madison Campton and Kaylie Phelps finished their careers with 60 wins in three seasons.
The foursome helped SHS win a sectional title in 2018 as freshmen. The following year the Golden Bears won 14 games. This season the seniors made up for lost time after missing a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their final season was a special ride as the group led Shelbyville to a school record 24 wins. The memorable campaign came to an end Tuesday at the Shelbyville Sectional, however, against a pesky Columbus North team, which ended the regular season ranked No. 13 in Class 4A.
Bulldogs’ sophomore Madison Rutan struck out nine Shelbyville batters as Columbus North (22-4) secured a 4-2 win. The No. 6 Golden Bears (24-5), known for their hard-hitting lineup, managed just three hits.
“We didn’t do a very good job of hitting the ball, we are one of the better hitting teams around and we had three hits,” said Shelbyville head coach Mark Hensley. “You won’t win many games with three hits, not against a pitcher like that.”
CN scored three runs off three hits in the first inning and added another run in the third inning for a 4-0 lead.
Shelbyville junior Karissa Hamilton hit her 22nd home run (tied state record) of the season in the top of the fourth inning. It went over the trees in left field. SHS managed another run in the fifth inning (Campton bunt scored one) but could not complete the comeback.
The Golden Bears had the bases loaded in the fifth inning with Hamilton at the plate – a perfect scenario for SHS. Rutan (16-2) forced a pop up to centerfield, which was a theme of the evening, to end the threat. Rutan was able to keep SHS off-balance most of the night with a rise ball, Hensley said.
“We had five hits off her (Rutan) the first game (9-5 loss on April 8), but she came in later in the game,” he said. “She was throwing her rise ball (Tuesday), it was out of the zone and we were swinging at it. That is why she throws it there. We are a better team than that. We don’t normally swing at it. We cut down on it later. But we were swinging at her pitches.”
Freshman Cheyenne Eads threw three innings for Hensley before being replaced by sophomore Hailey Pogue. Pogue kept CN in check the rest of the way, which gave SHS fans hope late in the game.
“Cheyenne has been so good for us all year,” Hensley said. “We might of left her in there one inning too long, but our confidence in her is so high. Pogue came in and shut them down.”
Eads finished the season with a 10-4 record in the circle.
Pogue, who finished 9-0 while pitching, and Mathies also managed one hit each for the Golden Bears, who played in front of a packed house Tuesday.
Shelbyville ended the season with 67 home runs, which currently leads all Indiana softball teams. Weaver, who will continue her playing career at Valparaiso University, hit 10 of them. She said she has never been on a team, including travel ball, with so much power.
“It was kind of no big deal (after a while),” Weaver said, admitting that the team got used to seeing balls sail over the fence.
Mathies also hit 10 home runs while Campton finished with seven.
Weaver and Phelps were recently named to the ICGSA Academic All-State Team. Phelps has a 4.313 GPA and is ranked 14th in her class. Weaver has s 3.969 GPA and is ranked 51st in her class.
Weaver, with her emotions running high after the game, reflected on what was a tremendous softball career for her and her classmates.
“We made an impact,” Weaver said. “The younger girls look up to us. I think that is a good thing for this program.”