Penn baseball and softball set for crucial postseason games
MISHAWAKA, Ind. - Another spring, and another strong postseason performance from Penn baseball and softball.
The two programs have become used to making deep tournament runs, and now they try to keep another one going.
“It just kind of comes from the tradition at Penn," said Kingsmen baseball outfielder Marshal Furner. "We want to succeed and do the best at whatever we do. Our motto from our athletic director is to always win a state title and that’s our goal every single year. It comes not only from the guys in the starting lineup but from the guys on the bench as well.”
Both teams will take the field on Saturday.
Baseball will play in Regionals. Softball will play in Semi-State, coming off a couple emotional wins after junior Lilly Thorn lost her father last weekend.
“I know this last week has been really rough on all of us," said softball pitcher Mackenzie Griman, "but we’re all ready to go Saturday, be back on this stage again like we were a few years ago. We’ve kind of got that upper edge, unfortunately with losing Lilly’s dad, we have another person to play for along with Piper and ourselves. We’re ready to go.”
Motivation has been full for both teams, and of course the softball team has plenty off the diamond.
However, they already had some on the field of play before the season began, just like the baseball team who came up just short of a state title a year ago.
“I feel like we cheer louder and get excited every [game as we get deeper]," said softball's Brenna Brown. "Since we lost last year in semi-state in a hard game, I feel like we’re really motivated to win this year.”
“We use it," Nate Vargo said of the memories from last spring's championship loss. "We want to avenge that loss last year. We want to go back there and win another state championship. We worked hard all offseason and now we’re here.”
To do that, both teams will have to get past tough competition.
The softball team takes on Lake Central in West Lafayette. The baseball team travels to La Porte to meet a familiar foe and their biggest rival: the Mishawaka Cavemen.
“It’s one of the biggest rivalries in Northern Indiana, so obviously it means a lot to the school, a lot to us as players and to the program," said Furner. "It’s more than just a game. It’s a rivalry. I know a lot of us are friends with the guys from that school. A lot of the guys don’t like us and we don’t like them, so it’s nice to be able to beat up on them and teach them some manners.”
Rivalries aside, there's been a solid connection formed between both of these teams.
While they'll once again be playing on the same day, both baseball and softball will be cheering for one another as they vie for a couple Penn state titles.
“We wish them luck," said Vargo. "We hope the best for them and we hope that they hope the same for us. We just want to go out there and win, and so do they. We’re doing our job right now, and hoping we both get a state title this year.”