Shortly after his team had finished winning the Class 2A Wabash Regional championship on June 7, Wapahani pitcher Zack Thompson expressed his happiness by saying it was “a great feeling.” But he also said his team had two more games to win in its quest for a state championship.
Thompson and his teammates took care of the first of those two victories on June 14, picking up a 2-1 semistate win against Lafayette Central Catholic. Wapahani (29-4, No. 1 Class 2A) will have a shot at the second victory today, when it faces Evansville Mater Dei (23-9, No. 7 Class 2A) in the Class 2A state championship game at 4 p.m. at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
Today’s game is Wapahani’s second appearance in the state championship game (the last one came in 2004), and the Raiders will attempt to be the first team from Delaware County to win a state championship.
Evansville Mater Dei advanced to today’s championship game with a 3-2 victory against Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter in the Jasper Semistate. The Wildcats also won the Tell City Sectional and the Providence Regional.
The Wildcats have one state championship in school history, a Class 2A title in 1999. They also have three runner-up finishes, taking second in 2A in 1998 and 2012 and taking runner-up honors in Class 3A in 2007.
Thompson is 12-0 and pitched complete games in both the regional and semistate title games for Wapahani. He allowed a combined five hits in those two outings. He’s part of a sophomore class that has jumped in and helped a senior-laden team reach the state title game. Fellow sophomore Grant Thompson (no relation to Zack Thompson) has been the starting catcher, and sophomore Hayden Castor has played shortstop.
“That whole sophomore class has grown a lot from last year to this year,” Wapahani coach Brian Dudley said. “And even during the course of our season, they have gotten better. So, we don’t look at them now as being young players at this point in the year.”
Wapahani fell to Lapel in its first game of the sectional tournament last season. That early exit fueled an intense desire to make a deep run this year, and the Raiders made a point to go through an intense workout schedule in the offseason.
The result of that work is an appearance in the state championship game.
“As soon as we get back in the fall, we put in work, and we work all through the winter,” senior center fielder Taylor McKee said after his team’s semistate win. “And it’s all for this.”