Randolph Southern High School has a rich tradition in girls athletics, has sent many successful individuals deep in state tournaments, but never has the Class A school in Lynn had a team regional championship.
Not before Tuesday.
But the arm of pitcher Sarah Snider and the bat of battery-mate Taylor York changed that.
Snider struck out eight from the circle and catcher York doubled, homered and had two key RBIs as the Randolph Southern softball team defeated Cowan 5-3, giving the Rebels their first IHSAA regional championship in school history.
“There’s never been a team regional winner,” Rebels coach Steve Bray said. “We’ve sent great athletes individually in track, wrestling, but we have never had a team win regional here at Randolph Southern. So this is big here. It’s huge.”
Huge was the overall performance for the Rebels (12-12) in avenging an earlier 1-0 shutout at the hands of the Blackhawks, who were then ranked No. 5 in Class A.
Randolph Southern took a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Morgan Acton hit an RBI single and scored on an RBI double by York.
In the top of the fourth, Cowan catcher Sara Masters surprised nobody by hitting a line-shot home run that made it 2-1.
She hammered foul ball after foul ball deep over the third-base dugout, before finally straightening out her swing and sending an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall.
She was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth to tie the game at 2, and came up in the top of the seventh as the tying run.
Snider, though, got Masters to send a towering, but harmless fly ball to center field for the second out.
“I didn’t really do anything different,” Snider said. “Just kept pitching my game. That’s it.”
A short flare into the glove of Southern first baseman Acton later and the Rebels had their regional crown.
“The last at-bat there Sara Masters had, I just put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak,” Bray said. “I felt like Sarah (Snider) was on her game. She was getting a lot of spin on her ball. The home run that Masters had hit earlier in the game, Sarah (Snider) just missed her spot. … (Snider) just stepped in and we knew she could get the out. I had the confidence in her. She got a rise ball, (and) we got her to fly out on that rise ball, got a good spin on it and did exactly what we wanted it to do.”
Snider held the Blackhawks to four hits — including two infield singles — while walking two and hitting one.
“We knew we could do it. We were positive the whole time,” Snider said. ” … My team did awesome. It’s a lot easier to go out there and pitch when they’re hitting good, so it helped my game that they were all hitting.”
Cowan took a 3-2 lead on a ball that just fell out of Acton’s glove in the fifth, but Courtney Bray singled in Lacey Covington in the bottom of the frame to knot the game at 3.
York then came up in the bottom of the sixth and sent a 1-1 pitch over the left-center wall to give the Rebels the lead for good.
Covington added an RBI single later in the inning for the final tally.
“This is my first home run this season over the fence. I had one in the park, but — and I’ve had some at practice — but I never knew I’d be able to get one in the game, so it was really exciting,” York said. “Now is when I wanted it to happen.”
Covington went 3-for-4 with an RBI and scored a run, Snider went 2-for-4 with a run scored, York and Acton each went 2-for-3 and Olivia Slick and Courtney Bray each also had a hit.
“Since sectionals started, we’ve been playing a lot of different ball. We’ve been putting runs on the board, which is not what we’ve done all season, and we just knew we had to get out there and score off the bat,” York said. “Our goal is to score first and score before them, and we did that today. And then we just built on it.”
The Rebels travel to the Clinton Prairie semistate Saturday to face the winner of the Frontier regional at 2 p.m.
The semistate championship is that night at 8, while the state final is June 8 at Ben Davis High School.
Cowan finished 21-10.