When the state tournament for high school sports rolls around in Indiana, communities come together to show their support. Win or lose, they are always there.
But when they see their team play great defense, never give up, and hit a walk-off single on their home turf, it becomes something that they will never forget.
That’s what the Cowan faithful saw today as the Blackhawks softball team defeated the Tri Titans 2-1 for their third straight regional championship.
“[Cowan’s five seniors] have been with us since 2012,” Cowan’s second-year head coach Curtis Bynum said. “They're the ones that allow us to have the success we've had.”
The Blackhawks (22-5, 5-2 Mid-Eastern) came into the regional championship at Cowan Junior/Senior High School with four straight wins with the closest margin being four runs. But today's contest was a bit different. Until the bottom of the sixth inning, the Blackhawks trailed 1-0.
In that time, the senior leaders kept the attitude of the Blackhawks up and continued to support their underclassmen teammates.
“Just going out there and being relaxed is when we play our best,” senior McKenna Minton said. “I knew that as long as we kept the game close, we were going to have the opportunity to win it.”
In the bottom of the sixth, senior Miranda Bowling scored senior Tatum Rickert with a one-out RBI single. The Cowan faithful cheered for their team the whole game, but this moment was when they were the loudest.
“For the longest time, Cowan was the doormat… for softball around this area,” Bynum said. "I mean, we still don't get a lot of recognition that some would like. But with that being said, that right there, that win.. it's huge for our community.”
After retiring the Titans (15-12, 2-6 Tri-Eastern) in the top of the seventh, the Blackhawks had three outs to win the game. The first two batters would be retired by Tri. But then Minton walked up to the plate.
“My goal was to just get on because I knew I would steal second and then [senior] Aryonna [Bynum] had the potential to walk me off at that point.”
Instead of just getting on base, she drilled the ball to center field. When she was on her way to second, she noticed the ball had rolled all the way to the wall. That is when she turned on the burners and reached third with a two-out triple.
Then Bynum walked up to the plate.
“I knew that McKenna [Minton] was gonna get on base and all I wanted to do was put the ball in play,” Aryonna said.
On the first pitch, she blooped a single past second base that scored Minton and gave Cowan the victory.
Her father and head coach, Curtis, was pumped.
“I don’t expect anything less,” he said, chuckling. “I knew she had it in her and it is extremely satisfying to see that.”
With the game being a low-score affair, both defenses shined. Rickert had a great game for Cowan as she finished the game with seven strikeouts. This is her fourth straight victory that she completed from start to finish.
To her, the biggest accomplishment from the game was keeping the team's atmosphere at a positive level.
“We play better when we are down,” Rickert said. “So the biggest deal was keeping all of the younger girls settled down because [the seniors] have been here before. We just had to keep them under control and just have fun and play our game.”
The Blackhawks will take on Rossville (22-6, 7-2 Hoosier Heartland) in semi-state at Frankfort. The game will be on Saturday, June 3rd, and start at 1 p.m.
In other news, the Yorktown Tigers (17-8, 4-3 Hoosier Heritage) also won their regional game earlier tonight and will also play in the semi-state at Twin Lakes. They will face Leo (25-1, 6-1 Northeast Eight) on Saturday at 11 a.m.