The joy of Hauser High School winning the Class A Indiana High School Athletic Association state softball championship was evident throughout the town of 2,200 and at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, where the season’s final game was played. But when a state title is 16 years in the making, such exuberance is warranted.

Jet players whooped, smiled and hugged on the field. Fans cheered themselves hoarse from the stands.

Upon their return home, Hope area residents lined the streets to greet the returning caravan. And immediately afterward, fans following the team packed into the school’s gymnasium to further celebrate the achievement.

Saturday’s 4-1 victory against Carroll (Flora) High School and the extended celebration that followed was a huge moment for the school, its softball program and the community.

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The championship represented great strides for a program that began in 2000, didn’t win its first game until 2001 and didn’t have a winning season until 2003. The next big step was winning a sectional title, which the Jets did five time before this season (2004, ’05, ’06, ’07 and ’14).

Winning a regional title had been the stumbling block and remained a large, looming goal. However, a tremendous combination of talent, desire and determination by the Jets softball team this season fueled them to their first regional, semistate and state titles.

The Jets cemented their legacy in community history, becoming the school’s first girls champion and its second state champion overall (to boys basketball in 2006).

Hoisting the championship trophy represented a great feeling of accomplishment for a school and a tight-knit town, where connections by supportive fans don’t have many degrees of separation from the players or coaches.

The immense pride felt by players, coaches and fans runs deep and got even stronger as the history-making season concluded.