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Penn captures regional title, Concord shows ultimate sportsmanship

MISHAWAKA, Ind. - There was little drama in Tuesday's Regional softball game between Penn and Concord.

The Kingsmen scored eight runs in the first two innings, en route to a 10-0 victory. They got another stellar performance, this time from Anna Gustafson, who carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning.

Now, they make their way to Semi-State for the fifth year in a row.

"We really just changed up our approach in practice," said Penn coach Beth Zachary. We really focused on tweaking our mindset and approach in that batter's box and it worked."

For Gustafson, the cushion of the offense felt like it not only worked wonders for her play in the circle, but for the confidence of the entire team.

"It gives us confidence that we know we can do it," said the junior. "It shows us that we do have bats and we are able and capable of doing it. We can do it down and semi-state too."

But beyond any titles or victories, the Kingsmen will remember a gesture from their opponents much longer.

After the game, Concord players presented black bows to Penn junior Lilly Thorn, whose father Steve passed away unexpectedly the day of the Sectional Championship.

"That was so nice," said Zachary. "We are so grateful for the support of everyone, and especially for Concord to come out and do that in a moment that was probably really tough for them."

Players from both teams hugged each other, and Thorn's mother spoke to the team as well. The Minutemen then wished Penn good luck as they continue in the state tournament.

"It shows a lot of character. It shows heart. It shows what the game is all about," Zachary continued. "For the way the girls have played and shown heart, and just come together to support the Thorn family, it makes me so proud to be a Kingsmen."

Penn will play Lake Central in Semi-State on Saturday.

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