June 21, 2013

Scecina’s softball team wins state championship

Members of the Scecina Lady Crusaders girls’ softball team are all smiles after winning the Class 2A state championship on June 8. (Submitted photo)

Members of the Scecina Lady Crusaders girls’ softball team are all smiles after winning the Class 2A state championship on June 8. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Even the struggle of fighting a heavy cold couldn’t limit the joy of Cory Gray.

The thrill and the happiness still resounded in his voice as he described the impact of the state championship season of the girls’ softball team at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis.

“It’s been overwhelming,” said Gray, the first-year head coach whose Lady Crusaders earned Indiana’s Class 2A high school state softball championship with a 4-2 victory over Adams Central High School on June 8 at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.

“I’ve never had a clue about how big it was to win a state championship for the east side community. It’s just been huge—for the players, the parents, the fans and the community. People have just made wonderful comments, and there are signs on stores. It’s everywhere.”

Gray credits the foundation for success to the lack of drama and the abundance of unity among the team members. Several times during the season, the players decided on their own to have “team bonding” nights when they all slept over at one player’s home.

“I think the relationship we have with the kids also helped,” Gray noted. “They don’t want to lose for themselves or the coaches. It wasn’t me who led the talks between innings of the state championship game. It was the seniors. Every inning, the players were pumping each other up to get the job done.”

While there wasn’t drama during the season, there was adversity to overcome.

The team’s scheduled starting catcher was lost for the season even before it began. Then during the first week of the season, the team suffered a deflating 10-0 loss that led Gray to hold a lengthy meeting with the players.

“That’s where everything took off,” Gray said. “I think it made a lot of them look in the mirror and think they weren’t working as hard as they could.”

The path to the state championship was also paved with the return of two key players. Gray said that starting centerfielder Darcella Blakey was out for 15 games during the season because of a concussion, but returned to the field right before the sectional tournament.

The other important “return” was connected to the team’s star pitcher, Michelle Rogers, who won the state championship game.

After Michelle’s father lost his job in Indianapolis, there was the possibility of the family moving to Louisville when her father found a new job there, according to Gray. Yet when Michelle said she wanted to stay at Scecina, her father made the commitment to keep the family in Indianapolis and drive to work in Louisville.

That sense of sacrifice, commitment and family was also the trademark of Scecina’s softball team.

“It was just the kids,” Gray said. “It was just their fight. They worked so hard that it was just very gratifying for them to come out on top.” †

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