Southern Indiana softball teams brought home plenty of hardware a season ago, and there’s no shortage of talent this year, either.
All three West Clark Community Schools — Borden, Henryville and Silver Creek — won regional titles last season. In Class 3A, Silver Creek won its first regional. In Class 2A, Henryville took its second. And in Class A, Borden won its second straight regional before clinching the state championship with just nine players.
Meanwhile, Floyd Central, a team that rolled through 25 straight opponents during the heart of its schedule a year ago, returns plenty of talent in Class 4A, including four NCAA Division I commits.
Here’s a look at a few of the top teams in Southern Indiana:
►Borden — the Braves, just seven years removed from the start of the school’s softball program, reached the pinnacle of their quick rise to the top with a Class A state championship a year ago. For coach Michele Schindler, the good news is that everyone is back from that 21-2 team, including her twin daughters, Paige and Riley, both of whom are committed to the University of Louisville.
“We’d love to repeat,” Michele Schindler said. “But I don’t want to look that far ahead. Everybody will be coming after us.
“They’re stronger and they’re a year older. I think we’ll just get better.”
Unlike a year ago, Schindler will actually have some company on the bench. This season the team has 12 members, giving Schindler three reserves to bring off the bench. The Braves are led by Paige Schindler, a pitcher who rang up 247 strikeouts last year and sported a 0.11 ERA. She batted .430. Her sister, Riley, batted .403, and Haley Shouse batted .418.
The Braves have beefed up their schedule a bit this season, including a May 11 meeting against Ballard, one of the top programs in Kentucky.
►Floyd Central — The Highlanders return six starters back from last year’s 28-4 team that lost to Gibson Southern in the regional final.
Floyd Central’s biggest question could be on the mound, where the Highlanders must find a replacement for Kassie King (18-2). Co-coach Sean Payne believes he’s got a duo who should fill in nicely in sophomore Abby Letson and junior Lexie Heeke.
“I have a lot of confidence in them,” Payne said. “If they just hit their spots, we’ll score enough runs to win a lot of games.”
The power-packed lineup includes Jensen Striegel (Murray State recruit), who batted .548 last season with 48 stolen bases in 49 attempts; Taylor Castleberry (Ball State recruit), who batted .408; Jenna Endris (Lipscomp recruit), who batted .452; Paige Meyer, who batted .454; and Dallas Henderson, who batted .403 and is being recruited by several NCAA Division I schools.
This year, Henderson will be alternating between catcher and third base with freshman Taryn Weddle, who recently committed to the University of Louisville.
“I personally think we’ll be better than last year,” Payne said.
►Silver Creek —The Dragons (20-6) return six starters from their first regional title team.
Silver Creek, which fell to Owen Valley 5-4 in the Class 3A semi-state, will be led by junior pitcher Camryn Teague, who threw 80 innings last year, struck out 70 and walked just 15 with a 2.70 ERA.
“She’s very powerful,” coach Nate Gibson said of Teague. “She’s not scared to place a pitch and go after the hitter.”
In addition to Teague, the Dragons return Courier-Journal All-Area performer Abby Whitlock, who will be the team’s lead-off hitter.
►Henryville —The Hornets (28-3), who saw a 24-game winning streak snapped at the semi-state last year, will be led by Indiana State recruit Peyton Ottersbach, who will share pitching duties with Lexie McAfee.
Henryville’s first-year coach Amanda Embry, whose squad include seven seniors, said there’s plenty of room for optimism.
“I have a lot of good girls,” said Embry, who was a pitching coach at Henryville in the 2013-14 season. “It’s a process. It’s going to be a learning experience.”