June 25, 2021

Roncalli Royals take the crown of state champs in softball

The players and coaches of the softball team of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis are all smiles as they celebrate their Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 4A state championship on June 12. (Submitted photo)

The players and coaches of the softball team of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis are all smiles as they celebrate their Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 4A state championship on June 12. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

When head coach David Lauck looks at the team photo, he savors all the smiles—all the shared joy of the players and coaches whose efforts led the softball team of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis to win a state championship on June 12.

Still, Lauck insists that as much as a keepsake as that photo is, it doesn’t capture the complete picture of all the people who helped make this season so special.

Etched in his memory also is the overwhelming support of the Roncalli community—students, friends, family members, teachers and so many others who came together to form a cheering crowd of 1,000 or more fans at the girls’ games.

He also focuses on the joy of the parents of the Roncalli players, smiling in admiration of their efforts to send their children to the Catholic high school and provide them with the training to develop their softball skills.

“I’ll get emotional here, but it all means the world to me,” Lauck says about all the bonds and connections that were made. “Our community loved this team, and the team loved them back. It’s just awesome.”

So was the feeling for everyone involved when the Roncalli girls beat the team from Lake Central High School 4-1 in the Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 4A championship game.

The victory capped a seven-game journey through the state tournament in which Roncalli outscored its opponents 35-2. Yet as lopsided as those numbers are, they are also deceiving about how hard, tense and dramatic some of those games were.

To win the sectional, Roncalli had to beat the only two teams it had lost to in the regular season. In the semi-state championship, the team gutted through a nail-biting, 10-inning game against Mount Vernon High School in Fortville, winning 1-0.

Through it all, their fans kept lifting up the team, the head coach says.

“Those are stories the girls will be telling the rest of their lives,” says Lauck, a 1994 Roncalli graduate. “We had huge crowds following us around. It was a great run, and being able to play in front of these crowds is something that most of these girls will never see again.”

As for Lauck, he saw the potential for something great for this team in the practices before the season started. He kept 19 players on the varsity team, even though he realized it could be hard to keep everyone happy in terms of playing time. But the girls made it work, Lauck said, because of three qualities that defined the team.

“They held each other accountable,” he says. “They had unselfishness. That’s something that all coaches preach but not all teams embrace. And they had strong leadership across the board—our sophomores were leaders, our juniors were leaders, our seniors were leaders.”

Their coach had a touch of extra praise for the team’s eight seniors, some of whom had to accept limited playing opportunities.

“At the end of the day, they were more about the team than themselves,” Lauck says. “Their leadership and selflessness came through and helped us win a state championship. As a coach, I couldn’t be more proud of them for the legacy they’re leaving behind for the younger players.”

Lauck’s thoughts then turn to one of his favorite scenes of the state championship.

Fifteen minutes before the game was to begin, most of his players were standing along the fence of the field, talking and enjoying time with their friends and family members. A couple hours later, they were all united again—in an outpouring of joy.

“It just reinforces the value of support our kids need, our kids want—not just at Roncalli, but at all high schools,” Lauck says. “It was a genuine blend of our student-athletes and community.

“These are memories we’re all going to remember.” †

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