One of the goals coach Jerry Burton had for his Seymour softball team at the beginning of the season was to win the Hoosier Hills Conference.
The Owls scored five runs in the first two innings and held off Bedford North Lawrence 5-2 Tuesday afternoon to clinch at least a share of the HHC title.
It’s Seymour’s first HHC title in softball since it joined the conference in 1996. Jennings County won the title in 2013 and 2015. Floyd Central won the crown the other six years since 2011, including the past three.
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“It’s a big win,” Burton said. “It puts us in a really good spot. Obviously that’s one of our goals. I’m proud of the girls for coming out and putting the energy in and playing a really good ball game tonight.”
The Owls took control from the start as Grace Meyer led off the bottom of the first inning with her fourth home run of the season: over the fence in right field.
“In a tough game it’s always good to get the lead early, so yes that was a big hit,” Burton said.
Rachel Kaufman reached first base safely on an error by the third baseman, and Chloe Mellencamp went in to run for her. Carlee Robinson hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Mellencamp and it was 2-0.
The Owls took advantage of three BNL errors to score three unearned runs in the second inning.
Jozie Nicholson started the rally with a single. With two outs, Matte Nicholson reached first base safely when the pitcher was unable to field her ground ball. Meyer singled to right field to drive in Jozie Nicholson, and when the ball got past the right fielder Matte Nicholson scored. Kaufman singled to score courtesy runner Alyna Alvarado.
Only one of the Owls’ runs were earned.
BNL’s leadoff batter reached first base safely leading off the sixth and the Stars came up with three hits to score two unearned runs.
The Owls had only one error.
“The defense was pretty solid,” Burton said. “We’ve been pretty solid making the plays that we should make. That’s what we want to do. We don’t want to beat ourselves. We want to make the routine plays.”
Kaufman went the distance on the mound, as she had nine strike outs, one walk, six hits, and gave up two unearned runs.
“Rachel always gives us a good effort out there on the mound,” Burton said.
Prior to the game, Seymour athletic director Kirk Manns presented Burton with a plaque, and the team presented him with a signed ball for him reaching 400 career wins with the win over Henryville on April 2.
Burton previously coached Columbus East, Columbus North and Jennings County, and has been a head coach for over 25 years.
“I’m not one that keeps a lot of things, or make a big deal out of things, but I think you feel fortunate enough to have as many good players as I’ve had over the years,” Burton said. “And to get 400 wins, it’s about the players. It’s something I’ll definitely treasure and keep.”
The Owls (14-2) can capture the title outright with a win over Columbus East at home on Friday. Seymour travels to Edinburgh Thursday.