RISING SUN — Hauser seniors Ali Hoover and Hailey Lange had a good reason to celebrate on an early Saturday morning.
They were once again softball sectional champions after the Class A No. 3 Jets put away Oldenburg Academy 11-1 in six innings to win the Rising Sun Sectional.
Hauser now faces a very familiar opponent in Mid-Hoosier Conference rival and No. 9 Edinburgh in the regional championship game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Hauser.
For Hoover and Lange, this is their fourth sectional championship in their four years with the program. Lange, who has committed to play at Evangel University, shares plenty of friendship and special bonds with Hoover and her underclassmen teammates over the years through travel softball and also volleyball and basketball during the school year.
“It’s so awesome right now, and to do it with these girls just makes it that much better,” Lange said. “Tessa (Sims) has been one of my best friends on and off the field. Ali, and with Sydney (Schoen) and all the rest of the juniors I have been with the longest. It’s hard to think that I will leave these girls because they all have been with me since Day 1.”
It’s going to be bittersweet for Hoover, who will attend Indiana University next year, when her high school career reaches its end sometime in the next two weeks. She never got the opportunity to play in last year’s sectional because of a torn ACL. She suffered a broken hand and was in a cast early this season, but was able to play through it. She is back at full strength to make one last run.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to play this sport in general, especially in (Hope),” Hoover said. “Growing up here has been a great experience. I wouldn’t trade any team, players, or coaches here at Hauser for anything in the world. I got to meet so many people and we played at so many different places together. It’s been awesome.”
Hauser (24-3) looked rusty from the start of the game and had trouble putting runs on the board early. Oldenburg looked to be in the driver’s seat when the game was tied 1-1 after three innings.
Sims came in to pitch in the third. She only allowed one hit and struck out eight over the final four innings.
The Jets scored 10 runs in the final three frames to put the game away.
Lange finished with two triples. Lauryn Starnes collected three singles. Shelby Fugate, Sims and Hoover all added two singles.
Hauser coach Craig Sims says that the team has to be ready to play from the start and cannot afford to have a slow start when it plays against Edinburgh and expect to win.
The Jets have very little time to celebrate. They turn their focus to the Lancers, who they beat in their two regular season matchups by only a single run.
“We have to come in with a good mentality, and they’re a very good team,” Starnes said. “We have to play our best because one mistake can cost us the ballgame.”