INDIANAPOLIS – This time Lakewood Park Christian completed the job.
One year after falling in the IHSAA Class A Softball state championship game, the Panthers prevailed in the title game Saturday at Ben Davis High School in dramatic fashion 3-2 over Indianapolis Lutheran.
With the score tied in the seventh and final inning, Lakewood Park junior Courtney Sliger doubled home Jamie Budreau to put the Panthers ahead to stay.
“In that seventh inning when we got runners on (first and third base),” Panther left fielder Brett Taulbee explained, “when Courtney got up I knew that she was going to hit it.”
Sliger wasn't second-ranked Lakewood Park's best hitter this season, but she was on Saturday. The junior shortstop connected for an IHSAA Class A Finals record three hits to go with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.
“(The hits) were at key moments,” Panther coach David Carnahan said. “These hitters worked hard all year long and they were mentally tough and got it done.”
Lakewood Park had nine hits on the day and combined enough offense to go with a strong pitching outing by Mikeila Boroff.
The sophomore was dominant at times, including the most critical juncture, the seventh inning. Boroff retired the side and got the final out on three consecutive strikes.
“Mikeila was so on it,” Panther catcher Jaclyn Delagrange said. “She was focused on every pitch. I would give her a shot and I could see her looking right at it. She wanted this more than anything and I can't tell you how proud I am of her.”
Boroff (27-5) limited the fifth-ranked Saints (24-5) to just six hits and struck out 10 batters in the complete game effort.
“She did a great job,” Carnahan said. “She kept it close. We gave a couple of runs away, but otherwise she pitched a great game and we have to give her a lot of credit.
Delagrange had a pair of hits in the victory, including a double, while Brittan Carnahan, Suzanne Grimm, Boroff, and Nicole Faur each had one hit.
Aside from Budreau scoring, Faur and Sliger also came home in the win.
In the bottom of that inning, sophomore pitcher Mikeila Boroff retired the Saints in order to seal the victory.
The championship was the first in Panther (27-5) history.
Lakewood Park only has a couple of seniors on the roster, but one of them had an especially great day, not just with her team, but individually as well.
Panther senior Kelsey Kruse was the recipient of the IHSAA Class A Mental Attitude Award.
Kruse has participated in four sectional championships, three regional championships, two semi-state championships, and two state finals appearances.
In the classroom, she is ranked fifth in her class and is a Panther Award winner, the highest award bestowed on student-athletes at Lakewood Park Christian.
Kruse is the daughter of Mitchell and Susan Kruse of Auburn and Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance presented a $1,000 scholarship to Lakewood Park Christian High School in the name of Kruse as part of the program.