Royals take state softball title in dramatic fashion


Hamilton Southeastern High School senior Alex Kiemeyer found the perfect way to close the high school chapter of her softball career.

CIF COM 0618 HSE softball Kiemeyer head shot
Alex Kiemeyer

It’s a scenario every player dreams of as Kiemeyer drilled a run-scoring double in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Royals to a 2-1 victory over New Palestine June 7 in the IHSAA Class 4A state championship game at West Lafayette. It was the third state title for the Royals (25-4), who previously won 4A state titles in 2007 and 2010.

“It felt amazing,” said Kiemeyer, who was 0-for-3 at the plate with two strikeouts before her hit. “It was a surreal way to end my high school career. At the end of the day, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates who encouraged me and always believed in me. I felt comfortable and confident at the plate with their support.”

The support is a result of a special bond on the team, which included 11 seniors. Six were starters.

“This team’s bond was special and (so was) each player’s drive to win and get better,” Kiemeyer said. “We all supported each other and pushed each other to be better. Everyone was always driven to work hard and we always bounced back after failures. We had a big group of seniors, but we felt like family. We were always having fun together and playing for each other.”

CIF COM 0618 HSE Softball Swedarsky head shot
Grace Swedarsky

Royals sophomore pitcher Grace Swedarsky allowed two hits and struck out 13.

“It was really special considering that New Pal had scored 72 runs in the postseason coming into state (final),” Swedarsky said. “We knew they have big hitters from top to bottom, and only allowing one run is almost hard to believe in a sense.”

Kiemeyer’s double scored senior Addy Justice, who had singled. Justice, who had a team-high .480 batting average, had three hits. She will play for the University of Dayton next season.

“She has a lot of tools in her toolbox and she’s very smart,” Royals first-year coach Emily Pusti said. “She’s pretty versatile and keeps the defense on her toes.”

Junior Makenna Burlingame had two doubles and scored the other run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by junior Keira Lodes.

Swedarsky finished with an 18-2 record with a 1.05 earned run average.

“I feel like this year I played with more confidence,” she said. “After having one year of experience, I knew what to expect this year and that made it a lot easier for me. That and also working on my speed and spin during the offseason helped aid in my success.”

Pusti said Swedarsky proved to be a standout pitcher all season and showed it again in the title game.

“It was a big stage to pitch in (in the state final) and the amount of fans we had, she did a very good job of pushing through,” Pusti said.

Kiemeyer is one of the team’s triplets, including teammate Ava and Royals manager Zoe. Alex is headed to play for Indiana University Indianapolis and Ava, an HSE reserve outfielder, will play at Franklin College.

Other seniors set to play in college are shortstop Lani Wyrick at Elon University and first baseman Jenna Chase at Kennesaw (Ga.) State University.

Senior third baseman Reese Garland, who was third on the team with a .358 batting average and had a team-high five home runs, chose not to play in college and will attend the University of Cincinnati. Wyrick was second on the team with a .362 average, followed by Burlingame at .341 and Alex Kiemeyer at .323.

The Royals finished the season with 11 consecutive victories.

“It was Grace’s strong pitching, stringing hits together and our defense working really hard,” Pusti said.

The future looks bright.

“With Grace and what we have coming back with our sophomore and juniors, we’re excited about what is to come,” Pusti said. “We’re going to keep working hard and building the program.”