Brady Extin | The Times-Post

NEW PALESTINE — Last Thursday night’s softball matchup at New Palestine High School was a battle of ranked teams, was a potential sectional semifinal preview, and was a game between the top two teams in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.

But more than anything it was a chance for New Palestine to get revenge against the team that knocked them out of last year’s sectional. Last season, the Arabians lost to the Dragons 11-2 in the regular season, but won the more important matchup, 5-3, in the sectional.

No. 11 Pendleton Heights (15-8, 4-1) will be hoping history repeats itself after they fell to the No. 3 ranked Dragons (16-1, 6-0) 5-1.

With the loss, the Arabians dropped to 4-1 in the HHC while New Palestine remained unbeaten in conference play and clinched a share of the title. They can win it outright with a win over Delta on May 17.

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Courtney Study in the circle, the high-powered New Palestine offense wasted no time jumping on Pendleton Heights starting pitcher Shelby Messer in the bottom half of the inning.

Leadoff hitter Jersi Gross walked to kick things off, and a batter later, Allie Blum smacked her 12th home run of the season over the centerfield fence to give the Dragons an early 2-0 lead.

The Dragons three-hitter, Syd Oliver, followed Blum with a triple and scored on a Paige Ernstes sacrifice fly to cap off a three-run first inning.

In the third, the Dragons loaded the bases with three straight singles, but Messer avoided damage with a pop-out to second and a double-play pop-out to the catcher in foul territory. Katelin Goodwin made the catch and caught Oliver trying to tag up and score.

Two innings later, the New Palestine offense tacked on a pair of insurance runs. Oliver started the inning with her third hit of the game and later came around to score from first on a Maddie Engle double. The next batter, Reese Rosenbaum, singled in Engle to make things 5-1.

The five runs were more than enough for Study and Cailyn Hurst in the circle.

Study, after running in the HHC track meet on Wednesday, rejoined the Dragons on Thursday and picked up right where she’s been all season long.

She moved to 10-0 on the season with 5 ⅓ innings of one-run ball.

The lone Pendleton Heights run came in the fourth inning with three straight hits to start the frame. Skylar Baldwin got the Arabians first hit of the game with a bunt and moved to second on a passed ball before being brought home by a Goodwin double.

A single by Kelsey Day put runners on the corners with no outs, but the Dragons defense came up big. Day was caught by Rosenbaum trying to steal second, Ernstes got Goodwin out at home on a ground ball to third, and a hard groundout back to Study in the circle off of the bat of Morgan Humble ended the threat.

Relieving Study in the sixth was Hurst. After throwing a shutout the night before against Fishers, she came in and shut down the Arabians in the sixth and seventh.

After a single to the first batter she faced, Goodwin, she sent the next five batters down and ended things with a strikeout.

In the circle for Pendleton Heights, Messer threw five innings, allowed five runs, eight hits and struck out one. Humble came in in the sixth and allowed one walk and no runs.

At the plate, Goodwin had a pair of hits while Baldwin, Day and Ari Rector each had one.

The Arabians fell to Eastern Hancock 4-3 on Monday, was set to play New Castle on Tuesday (after press time), and play host to Yorktown at home at 6 p.m. today, Thursday, May 16.