The softball season didn’t end quite how Edinburgh pitcher Maddi Clark would’ve liked a year ago.

In the third inning of the Lancers’ Class A regional game against Hauser, Clark was injured in a collision at home plate and had to exit, opening the doors for the Jets to roll to a 12-1 win.

Now a junior, Clark is ready to help lead Edinburgh on what she hopes is a deep postseason run. The Lancers are certainly capable — and their ace pitcher is a big reason why.

Clark has again been highly effective in the circle, posting an earned-run average of 1.84 and displaying impeccable control — she has struck out 108 hitters this season while walking just nine.

“I think I’ve gotten a little smarter,” she said. “On plays where I need to cover and where to throw balls in certain counts.”

“She’s definitely got a little more confidence,” added her father, Edinburgh coach Stephen Clark. “Playing year-round (with the Indiana Shockwaves travel team) definitely helps that. She’s definitely seasoned in the circle.”

And at the plate. A .290 hitter a year ago, Clark has bumped her batting average all the way up to .483 this spring, putting yet another potent bat in a dangerous Lancers lineup. Seven different regulars are hitting .370 or above, and sophomore catcher Sidney Beier ranks among the state leaders in several offensive categories.

Edinburgh has grown more confident with each passing week, and as the host and clear favorite in this week’s sectional, the Lancers will likely put themselves in position to get yet another crack at neighbor and nemesis Hauser.

The two teams played a pair of one-run games earlier in the season, with the Jets pulling out both.

“It’s always fun playing them, because I’ve grown up playing Tessa (Sims) and Hailey (Lange),” Maddi Clark said. “We’ve kind of made a little friendship; it’s always really fun to play them. It’d be nice to beat them, though — finally get one on them.

“We’re always so close, and they always find a way to get us.”

Stephen Clark says his team knows better than to look ahead; the Lancer veterans have some experience with losing games to inferior competition, so nobody is looking past the sectional games just yet.

The expectations, though, are certainly higher.

“The confidence level is up pretty high,” Stephen Clark said, and if they keep playing like they should, it should be a pretty good finish to the year.”

If you go

Class 4A Center Grove Sectional

Today

Martinsville vs. Franklin Central, 5:30 p.m.

Center Grove vs. Franklin, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday

Today’s winners, 5:30 p.m.

Whiteland vs. Greenwood, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday

Championship, 6 p.m.

Class 3A Indian Creek Sectional

Today

Danville vs. Indian Creek, 5:30 p.m.

Indianapolis Washington vs. Greencastle, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday

Today’s winners, 5:30 p.m.

Beech Grove vs. Indianapolis Northwest, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday

Championship, 6 p.m.

Class A Edinburgh Sectional

Today

Edinburgh vs. Southwestern (Shelbyville), 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday

Greenwood Christian vs. Waldron, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday

Today’s winner vs. Morristown, 5:30 p.m.

Thursday

Championship, 5:30 p.m.

Scouting county softball sectionals

Class 4A Center Grove Sectional

Favorite: Center Grove

Dark horse: Franklin Central

Players to watch: Center Grove — Hannah Burris, Abby Herbst, Tyler LeMasters, Jordyn Rudd; Franklin — Haley Hull, Rilee King, Payton Parker; Franklin Central — Katie Back, Claire Gilliland, Taytum Schaney; Greenwood — Allison Hayes, Kaitlyn Heffner, Alexis Rees; Martinsville — Paige Dorsett, Annah Elliott, Lexis Lucas; Whiteland — Lindsey Boltz, Maddy Margraf, Skye Scott.

Outlook: A year after being upended by Franklin Central, Center Grove enters this year’s sectional as the clear favorite. The Trojans’ toughest test would likely be a potential semifinal against the Martinsville-Franklin Central winner, but they’ve already beaten both. Expect Center Grove to move on to the regional with little difficulty.

Class 3A Indian Creek Sectional

Favorite: Danville

Dark horse: Indian Creek

Players to watch: Beech Grove — Reecie Gilliam, Mallory Storms; Danville — Kate Barton, Emma Dwyer, Kaiti Skinner; Greencastle — Layna Robinson, Mckenzie Woodall; Indian Creek — Dori Knight, Rachel Kyle, Kasey Wilhoit.

Outlook: The blind draw certainly didn’t do Danville or Indian Creek any favors. The Warriors and Braves, far and away the top two teams in the draw, will face one another in the first game of the sectional. If the Braves can get to Danville ace Dwyer and put up enough runs to win that showdown, the path to a regional spot should be pretty clear from there.

Class A Edinburgh Sectional

Favorite: Edinburgh

Dark horse: Southwestern (Shelbyville)

Players to watch: Edinburgh — Sidney Beier, Maddi Clark, Vanessa McManaway, Bailey Woodall; Greenwood Christian — Morgan Haynes, Tara Pennycuff, Faith Shilket; Morristown — Lily Baker, Shade Bridgford, Shelby Hudson; Southwestern — McKayla McGuire.

Outlook: Nothing is a sure thing until the games are played, but all signs point to the host Lancers cruising through the week. Edinburgh has played five games against the field, winning those by a combined score of 74-5. The lone team the Lancers haven’t yet faced is GCA, a potential opponent in the title game.

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.