Two words describe the biggest reason how Roncalli won the IHSAA 4A softball state championship for the second time last year.
That’s how they overcame a lengthy rain delay before the title game at Purdue University’s softball complex as the Royals set all kinds of records in a 17-0 thumping of Lafayette Harrison.
Those were the same words echoed last week by senior shortstop Lauren Marsicek after the 4A No. 2 Royals pounded out 18 hits in a 17-0 five-inning spanking April 24 against briefly ranked No. 1 Center Grove. The Royals faced the visiting and highly regarded Trojans after a 13-3 five-inning loss to Penn in the nightcap of the Carmel Classic.
After defeating Center Grove, Marsicek was asked what led to the turnaround.
She replied, “Playing loose.”
“We kind of just played (CG) the same as always,” the two-time state championship teammate said. “Saturday (Penn) was rough but our team bonding is as strong as ever. I think we came in more loose because we realize that stuff happens and we were playing loose.”
The game against Center Grove attracted state attention. The first five Royals reached base in a four-run first inning with seven more runs in the second and six more runs in the third.
The triumph was a relief for the Royals, now 13-2-1 as the defending Marion County champs begin defense of their title Friday at 5:30 p.m. at home against Lutheran.
Coach David Lauck had noticed early in the season with three new players in the lineup that the clutch hits were fewer with his first four hitters the same as last year – speedster Lyla Blackwell who had four stolen bases, third baseman Carley Keller, leftfielder Abbey Hofmann, and pitcher Keagan Rothrock. Marsicek and Hofmann each homered and drove in four runs.
Blackwell, Keller, and Rothrock led the way against CG with three hits apiece. Marsicek and Hofman homered and drove in four runs apiece. Rothrock threw a two-hitter and struck out nine.
“When one batter got a hit, the batters behind them are getting hits,” Lauck said afterward. “Once they got on base, we’re moving runners.”
In subsequent games, the Royals downed Heritage Christian 13-0, Franklin Central 10-0 with a seven-run first inning and Martinsville behind Rothrock’s perfect game and 11 strike outs. Rothrock is 9-0, 0.23 ERA, and 113 strikeouts in the circle.
With no conference affiliation Center Grove (15-4) visits Bloomington North Wednesday then returns home to face Westfield Thursday and Noblesville Saturday.
The young Trojans are led at the plate by junior Hannah Haberstroh (.508. 33 hits, 15 RBI), freshman Brynn Meyer (.492, 29 hits, 13 RBI), sophomore Mae Munson (.434, 23 hits), and senior Ashlynn Wolff (.426, 26 hits, 16 RBI).
The annual Marion County softball tourney begins Friday night at different sites with winners advancing to quarter-finals Saturday at 10 a.m. and semifinals at noon at Ben Davis with championship game Monday at 6 p.m.
Southside teams square off Friday in the first round with Lutheran (8-4) at Roncalli (13-2-1), Ben Davis (4-8) at Decatur Central (8-9), Franklin Central (9-9) at Beech Grove (15-2), and Perry Meridian (6-9) vs. Southport (5-11).
County tourney baseball games Friday are at 5:30 p.m. with Southside teams in action:
Lutheran (10-5), Saints have hit 16 home runs, at Beech Grove (6-5), Hornets coming off 14-1 road win at Clinton Prairie.
North Central (8-3) at Perry Meridian (9-7), Falcons scored upset of Roncalli, 4-1.
Lawrence Central (1-11) at Decatur Central (7-7-1), Hawks losses came in streaks of four and three games in a row.
Southport (4-10), caught in an eight-game skid, at Franklin Central (4-12), coming off 4-3 HCC win against Zionsville.
Roncalli (13-3), undefeated in Circle City Conference, at Warren Central (11-4).
Saturday’s upper bracket quarterfinals would find Lutheran-Beech Grove winner at Ben Davis and LC-DC winner at Decatur Central at 10 a.m. with winners going to semifinal game at Decatur Central at 4 p.m.
Lower bracket quarterfinals find NC-PM and Southport-FC winners at Southport and Roncalli-WC winner at Roncalli at 10 a.m. with semifinal game at Roncalli at 4 p.m.
County championship will be at Victory Field, date to be announced later.