Roncalli’s softball ends perfect season with state title
The stadium hosting all four games of the State Softball Championship is just under six miles south of Harrison High School.
If there’s one team equipped to convincingly eliminate any home country advantage, it’s Roncalli.
The Royals, the definition of dominating all season, weren’t about to veer off course on Saturday night. They beat the hometown Raiders in record fashion, 16-0, in the Class 4A title game at Purdue’s Bittinger Stadium.
The victory caps a flawless 33-0 season for Roncalli, making him the first undefeated 4A champion since Hamilton Southeastern in 2007. Prior to Saturday, the last undefeated all-class champion was South Putnam, who had gone 31-0 in 2012.
Ranked atop the 4A poll since the first pitch of the season in early April, the Royals took the best shot from every opponent and came through unscathed – and rarely challenged – as they ran their winning streak to 46 games. since the 2021 season.
“We’ve had one goal on our backs all year,” said Roncalli coach David Lauck, who in 14 seasons has led the program to three 4A crowns, including the last two. “We had the opportunity to practice this week. We participated in four training sessions in a row, and that is very rare.
“(The players) have been locked up all week. They’re a very experienced team, a very veteran team, and they came out tonight and got them under control.
Not right away, however.
The game was delayed 2 hours and 3 minutes due to lightning in the area shortly after the end of the 2A State Championship contest between Eastside and North Posey.
Once the action finally began at 9:03 p.m., the Royals were eager to demonstrate why they are ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and No. 2 by USA Today.
Junior leadoff hitter Lyla Blackwell hit the first of three singles in the top of the first inning. She stole second base, moved to third base on a fielder’s pick and, just like that, it was 1-0 after junior right fielder Abbey Hofmann hit her home .
Roncalli put the game aside in the third inning, tacking on eight more runs – a scoring outing again thrown by, surprise, Blackwell picking and stealing second base. What followed was a single from Carley Keller, a double to deep center field through Hofmann, a triple from junior pitcher Keagan Rothrock and a single from Kylie Freije.
Senior Tori Candler capped the scoring, her two-run homer off Harrison starter Sydney Miller slashing from the top of the fence to right-center.
“In fact, before the game, Kylie (Freije) said to me, ‘Hey, in this game, you’re going to hit 225 (feet) from dead spot,'” Candler said. “I said, well, that’s easier said than done, but I’ll do my best. I just saw this pitch, and I said, this one’s gone.
With no 10-run rule in place for state championship games, all seven innings were played, which only provided the Royals with further opportunities to continue rewriting the Finals record books. .
In all, Roncalli places his name next to eight standards. Rothrock, meanwhile, did what Rothrock does, going the distance in the circle, allowing two Raider hits, walking a batter and striking out 15.
She finished the season with a 28–0 record and 381 strikeouts against 18 walks in 170 1/3 innings of work.
Teams that have so many expectations are sometimes known to fold at some point. According to Candler, the Royals have never been tempted to look over their collective shoulder.
“We tried not to worry about that stuff because we work really well together and we all get along really well. We always try to have as much fun as possible in the shelter,” Candler said. “The possibility of losing will always be there. No one will always be perfect.”
“But we always try to keep a positive mindset and think we’re going to win.”
Lauck understands that it’s inevitable that newer Roncalli ball clubs will be compared, as many of the players involved in hoisting the school’s latest additions to the trophy are the same.
However, there are differences. The 2021 team was the school’s first state softball finalist since Roncalli won the Class 3A title a decade earlier.
“Last year’s team didn’t go through the state championship stage, so that was all new for us. And so we were sort of surviving, surviving, surviving,” Lauck said. “While this year’s team with veteran experience and leadership, they’ve been there, done it.
“They knew how to prepare and they knew what to expect.”
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