ELNORA — Two months ago this didn’t seem possible. Even four weeks ago, the thought of winning a softball sectional was far from a certainty for North Daviess. Yet, in the second week of June, the Cougars are preparing to play in the Class A State Championship.
North Daviess (18-11) will play North Miami (28-4) in the first state title game Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Ben Davis High School. This will be the second championship game appearance for North Daviess and the second since 2005.
The Cougars looked far from the team that has won five straight postseason games by outscoring their opponents 16-3 in the state tournament. To start the season, the Cougars lost four straight and seven of their first eight games. Mixing a group of girls from freshman to seniors proved difficult back in April, but coach Jodi Berry stayed the course. After starting 1-7, North Daviess finished the regular season by winning 12 of its final 16 games.
“Before the season started we knew the talent we had coming back and the freshman class we had coming in and we had high hopes coming in and then the year started not quite up to par,” Berry said. “We knew we had to buckle down and get to work. The girls dug in, kept fighting and didn’t give up. We have gotten over that mental block of can I do it, and it’s now we know we can do it. The girls are settling into the routine and they’re taking our mantra of execution, execution, execution and putting that into play.”
While the fielding errors have been non-existent in the postseason, the Cougars committed two errors in the third inning of Saturday night’s championship game against Clay City. The miscues, which included a pop up falling between pitcher Tailon Graber and the left side of the infield, allowed the Eels to tie the game at one. North Daviess responded to win the game to fight through a mental test. The infield defense of shortstop Jessica Miller and second basemen Morgan Wadsworth was key down the stretch.