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St. Joe softball already making history before state championship

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Making a deep run to Semi-State had become routine in the last decade for St. Joseph softball, but so had disappointment.

That all changed this past weekend.

"We always come home from semi-state super depressed every year," said senior Hannah Goerke, "but this year was singing on the bus and celebrating. It was awesome."

After eight trips in the last ten years, the Indians finally captured their first Semi-State title and earned a trip to their program's first-ever State Championship appearance with wins over Fairfield and Knox last weekend.

"A lot of the alumni players have actually reached out and congratulated our team on the win," said Megan Welsh. "It kind of shows that this isn't just for us on the current team, it's also for everyone who has come before us." 

"We just haven't been able to get over the hump, so these seniors it's really special for them," head coach Earl Keith added. "They've been there three times and now we get over the hump. We get to go down and see what this State thing is all about."

Now, they gear up for the biggest task of the season with nationally-ranked New Palestine awaiting in Saturday's 3A title game at Purdue.

"They're really good," said Keith. "They're ranked like number 11 in the nation or something like that. You just play whoever they put in front of you, and they haven't played us yet so we'll show up."

"Being an underdog is awesome," said Goerke. "Everybody loves that, so we have nothing to lose."

But for those seniors, it's an experience they'll have for the first time just like the rest of the team.

"I think it's cool for us five seniors to go to State for the first time in our softball history," said Abbey Tafelski, "to play our last game together on the Purdue field with all those fans."

"The bases are the same," said Addison Quinn, putting a softball twist on the classic Hoosiers line. "The fences are going to be the same. It's going to be fine. We just need to stay relaxed, and that's what it's going to take."

But win or lose, this team is grateful to finally have the opportunity to go out on the State's biggest stage.

"This is the closest our team has ever been as seniors," said Addison's twin sister Grace. "It's great to know that our last game together is going to be a State Championship game."

A championship would just make it that much sweeter.

"We're not content yet," said Welsh. "We need to make sure the team is ready to go and focused. As incredible as it's been to win a Semi-State championship, it would be even more incredible to win a State championship."

St. Joe will play New Palestine at Purdue's Bittinger Stadium on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 pm.


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