By Corey Stolzenbach
For The Republic
BRETZVILLE — Unranked Hauser, in its first year in Class 2A, made it all the way to semistate championship, and it had to take the top-ranked team in the state with a pitcher bound for the Big 10 Ten for it to go no further.
The Jets (25-8) saw their season come to an end when they were run-ruled, 10-0, in five innings against 2A No. 1 North Posey. They had beaten Triton Central 10-7 in the semifinals earlier in the day.
Senior pitcher Erin Hoehn of the Vikings proved to be too much — allowing just a base runner through the first four innings, and allowed no hits until her counterpart, junior Paige McDaniel, singled in the fifth. Hoehn also played a hand in three of North Posey’s first four runs.
“The sting of the loss is what’s set on them right now,” Hauser coach Andy Brunner said. “With time, they’ll understand. We didn’t execute in the box. There were some missed things. But with a little bit of time, that will settle down, and they’ll see the good in what they did this year.”
North Posey (28-0), however, got the rest of its bats going in the bottom of the fifth as sophomore Alyssa Heath, who had an RBI-single in the bottom of the first, scored off a double from junior Sibyl Renshaw, and Renshaw herself scored off a double from Viking junior Jenna Wehmer.
A big backbreaker came, however, with a three-run homer by senior Maddy Olander, and the Jets were in danger of being run-ruled. Hoehn, of all people, ended it when she doubled in junior Ashton Elpers to bring the run-rule into effect.
“Just a mental breakdown, absolutely just a mental breakdown,” Brunner said. “Hits are contagious, and one hit started turning into two and three and four — and that works on both sides of it. That ball Paige ripped up the middle, I talked to the girls before that at-bat and I told them, I said, ‘Let’s string some hits together, here. Let’s poke the giant bear, so-to-speak.’
“When Paige got in the box and smashed that line drive up the middle, I thought, ‘OK, here we go. We’ve got some life left,’” he continued. “And it just seemed like after that didn’t turn into anything. It almost just seemed like we shut down.”
The Vikings had to get past No. 6 Cascade with a 2-1 win in 12 innings in the semifinal just to get to the Jets, and Hoehn, an Indiana Miss Softball finalist, put on another display that Hauser had challenges adjusting to.
“I sat down here and I watched her today, and that changeup she has. you can’t detect it, it is a lethal pitch,” Brunner said. “Against Cascade, she threw a lot of balls from the letters on the jersey up, and we talked about just leaving that high pitch alone.
“….We have not seen anybody even close to that kind of speed – not even close,” he continued. “She is in a league of her own and she deserves all the accolades she gets.”
In the semifinal, Triton Central jumped out to an early lead with four runs in the top of the first. The Jets came back with two in the bottom of the first and six in the second, highlighted by a three-run homer from McDaniel, to take an 8-5 lead.
Hauser outhit the Tigers 14-11. Kyra Meister went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, Lucie Asher went 3 for 4 with a triple, Maley Jordan went 2 for 4 with two doubles and Hannah Taylor and Reagan Johnson each went 2 for 4 with a double.
The Jets are saying goodbye to four seniors to graduation in Meister, Taylor, Johnson and Kylie Mack. Brunner put it that those four had a “dry run” at being the seniors in 2022 because they lost nobody to graduation, but they stepped up and noted they’ll be huge shoes to fill and will be tough to play without.
Meanwhile, Brunner himself knows what will stand out to him when he looks back on this season in the future.
“The unranked team that paid no attention to all the mouths running, they got on the field and did their job and went back to the Final Four again two years in a row,” he said.