ELNORA — No matter how good a team you have, it takes a little magic along the way to win a state championship. That’s especially true in a sport such as softball, where the margin separating the best teams can be razor-thin.
In Monday night’s Class A semistate championship at North Daviess, Hauser definitely worked some magic at times. It just couldn’t conjure up the one final act it needed.
Perhaps a second consecutive state title run was just too much to ask for.
Down by a run, the Jets had the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, but a Borden team that had committed five errors on the evening made the final two plays it needed to finish off a 4-3 victory, earning itself a trip to Saturday’s state title game and ending Hauser’s 35-game winning streak.
“They’re a good team,” Hauser senior shortstop Leslie Sims said, “but just like Coach (Craig Sims) said after the game, errors cost you, and we beat ourselves. That’s what happens.”
That the Jets even had a chance to win the game in the last inning took a combination of heart, skill, patience — and good fortune.
Hauser was on the verge of being blown out in the top of the first inning when Borden put its first three runners on to load the bases for cleanup hitter Keisha Curry, one of the state’s top power sources.
Then came one heck of a magic act.
Curry flied out to center — and while it was deep enough to score the game’s first run, Hauser was also able to somehow turn that sacrifice fly into an 8-1-6-2 triple play when the Braves’ other two runners attempted to advance.
“That was huge …” Craig Sims said. “ … (Borden) got one run out of it, but it could have been a whole lot worse.”
Having applied the tourniquet to the early gash, the Jets were able to grind their way back from what became a 3-0 deficit, scoring twice in the third and manufacturing the tying run in the bottom of the fifth.
There was no such magic in the seventh, though, when Borden again loaded the bases with nobody out. A throw to the plate on a one-out bunt by Riley Schindler was just a fraction of a second late, and after center fielder Carrie Farvour secured the final out, a fly ball off the bat of Hauser’s Sidney Giles, the Braves managed to escape.
They did so despite a command final performance from Leslie Sims, who leaves with her name all over the state softball record book. The Indiana State signee went 4 for 4 on Monday, beating out three infield hits, and she also stole four bases and scored twice.
She finished her career stranded on third base, tantalizingly close to getting a chance to play one more game in a Hauser uniform.
Alas, it was not to be.
“All good things come to an end,” Craig Sims said. “The bottom line is, they were the better team tonight.”
It clearly hurt him to say it — but it’s also been a very long time since he’s had to.
Ryan O’Leary is the sports editor for The Republic. Send comments to email@example.com.