- Val T.
State champs: Hailey Gotshall
‘Nothing really gets to her:’ Pioneer pitcher maintains poise to win state title, also adds mental attitude award
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
GREENWOOD –- Three years after winning a state championship, Hailey Gotshall returned to the mountaintop of Indiana high school softball Saturday.
The Pioneer senior capped off her unparalleled career by beating Sullivan 4-2 in the Class 2A state championship game at Center Grove Elementary School’s Russ Milligan Field. Then she became the 12th student-athlete in Pioneer history to win the mental attitude award.
And then she was named Hoosier North MVP Saturday night.
Gotshall’s first state title was a 10-1 win over North Central (Farmersburg) 10-1 in the 1A title game in 2018. That day, Pioneer had a 7-1 lead after two innings, and Gotshall wound up pitching a three-hitter with seven strikeouts.
This game was more high-stress.
In the second inning, Sullivan’s Brooklyn Riley smoked a liner up the middle that Gotshall knocked down with her glove and somehow scooped with her glove to Brooklyn Borges at first base for an out.
She gave up a two-run double to Sullivan’s Kendal Edmondson in the third inning and trailed 2-1 but also stranded two runners in scoring position.
She had to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, which she did by inducing Sullivan leadoff hitter Avery Wiltermood to ground into an inning-ending double play.
She got more help in the fifth when Mackenzie Robinson and Hailey Cripe teamed up to throw out Lauren Craighead trying to go from first to third on Brooklyn Riley’s single.
She struck out Kate Ridgway with Ridgway representing the tying run in the sixth. And she got Edmondson on a grounder back to the circle to end the game with Edmondson representing the tying run.
The game was also played in an outdoor furnace with temperatures in the 90s.
“Well, I definitely had to give it everything I had,” Gotshall said. “The heat was a factor, but I couldn’t let it change my game any.”
Even in the hot box of a state championship game, where all eyes are on the girl in the circle, Gotshall was seemingly well suited for the moment.
“She’s very serious and laid-back,” senior catcher Mackenzie Walker said. “Nothing really gets to her. So if one person gets a hit off her, it doesn’t matter. She’s going to go back and get the next batter.”
Gotshall had thrown three consecutive shutouts in wins over Wheeler, Frankton and Fairfield in the regional and two semistate games.
“I wouldn’t say I was as good, but I wasn’t throwing duds in there,” Gotshall said. “I wasn’t just throwing them meatballs.”
Gotshall said she couldn’t relax against any of Sullivan’s hitters. She said she had to throw more change-ups because the Lady Golden Arrows adjusted to her speed well.
Gotshall said she has been playing softball since she was in kindergarten. She remembers attending John Bingaman’s camps – Bingaman was the Pioneer softball coach back then and the athletic director now – when she was 6 years old. She started pitching competitively when she was 9.
Bingaman later gave her the nickname “Tino,” a shortened version of her middle name Christine.
But after all her success, she stepped away from the game for 18 months during the pandemic – no high school ball, no travel ball.
That came after a ribcage muscle injury prevented her from pitching in the final six games of Pioneer’s 2019 state tournament run, which ended with a loss to Indianapolis Lutheran in the state championship game.
Earlier in the season, she said the break only made her love the game more once she returned to it.
“It was a great break for me,” Gotshall said. “I think I needed it. I was feeling a little bit of burnout. It made me ready for this season, and it was a great season.”
The mental attitude award is given to a senior in the state finals “who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability and is nominated by her principal and coach.” Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance presented a $1,000 scholarship to Pioneer in Gotshall’s name.
Gotshall has a 4.1 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Sunshine Society, Art Club, Pep Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
She also an individual regional qualifier in golf this past fall.
Gotshall might be laid-back, but she will be screaming in her future. That is, she will attend the University of Southern Indiana to continue her softball and academic careers. Southern Indiana is an NCAA Division II school located in Evansville. USI’s teams are nicknamed the Screaming Eagles.
“I love the campus, I love the team, great coach,” Gotshall said. “I just really liked how I felt there.”
Gotshall is the daughter of Richard and Traci Gotshall of Lucerne.
Pioneer mental attitude award winners
1997 – Tayt Odom (football)
2005 – Lisa Goltry (softball)
2014 – Parker Englert (football)
2016 – Austin Harmon (football)
2017 – Madison Kiser (girls track)
2017 – Garrett Schroder (football)
2018 – Alyssa Shaw (softball)
2018 – Haley Gleitz (volleyball)
2018 – Dustin Sparks (football)
2019 – Alexis Robinson (softball)
2021 – Olivia Brooke (girls basketball)
2021 – Hailey Gotshall (softball)
Pioneer’s three softball seniors pose with the state championship trophy following the team’s 4-2 win over Sullivan in the Class 2A state championship game at Center Grove Elementary School Saturday. From left, Mackenzie Walker, Madison Blickenstaff, Hailey Gotshall. Walker, Blickenstaff and Gotshall were the three returning players from the 2018 Pioneer team that won the Class 1A state title. Gotshall also won the state mental attitude award for Class 2A softball.