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Why Tri-West is playing for the IHSAA softball Class 3A state championship

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  • Class 3A: No. 2 Tri-West (28-6) vs. No. 3 Western (28-2), 7 p.m., Saturday
  • Tri-West is led by pitching ace Audrey Lowry, an Oklahoma talent.

JASPER – Monday’s semistate championship game against Silver Creek was reminiscent of the Class 3A state championship game from a few years ago. You know, that epic pitchers’ duel between future Oklahoma Sooners Audrey Lowry (Tri-West) and Berkley Zache (South Bend St. Joseph).

The 2024 iteration was similarly dramatic as Lowry recorded a two-hit shutout and her Silver Creek counterpart, senior Kennedy Caudill, carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning when Ava Hensley blasted a solo homer with two outs over the outfield wall in the hit the middle to send her. Tri-West to the 3A state championship game for the third straight season.

“That was one of the best softball games I’ve ever seen,” Tri-West coach Mike Miller said.

More: Tri-West goes from no-hit to a state final in the blink of an eye – or a swing of the bat

State Championship Central: Schedule, scores, full coverage

‘There was one two years ago power have been slightly better,” he continued, referring to SBSJ’s dramatic 1-0 win. “Only the outcome of this is slightly better. That was just a great softball game. Both teams: I have total respect for Silver Creek.”

It is truly remarkable what the Bruins have accomplished. To achieve it in consecutive seasons is an achievement in itself, but to do it a third time – despite six players achieving it – is something else entirely.

Now Tri-West will look to succeed where it has fallen short the past two seasons and bring that elusive state championship trophy back to Lizton (7 p.m., Saturday vs. Western).

Here’s how the Bruins got back to West Lafayette.

(Note: With Monday’s win, they tied Lakewood Christian (2011-13), New Palestine (2017-19), Pioneer (2018-21), Roncalli (2021-23) and Tecumseh (2021-present) for most consecutive competitions. semi-state championships.)

Audrey Lowry, of course

I mean, where else would we start?

The Oklahoma-bound senior has maintained dominance and solidified her place among the state’s all-time greats. Lowry is 19-3 with a 0.49 ERA and 294 strikeouts over 158.2 innings pitched with just 10 walks and three home runs allowed.

She threw a perfect game of 20 strikeouts vs. Linton-Stockton at the end of the regular season and enters Saturday’s final on a 27-inning shutout streak. She has not allowed an earned run since a 1-0 loss to Center Grove on May 15 (40 innings).

The career totals are also staggering: 78-14, 0.69 ERA, 1,084 strikeouts over 582 innings pitched.

I was standing on the Silver Creek sideline Monday night and a baseball coach, who had been watching from behind home plate, walked over and marveled at the movement on Lowry’s fields.

Folks, when her climber gets dialed in, she’s virtually untouchable.

More: 40 strikeouts in 1 day lands Tri-West ace Audrey Lowry in rare 1,000-K club

It should also be noted that Lowry can also hit. In fact, she’s the team’s best hitter, with a .524 average with 43 hits, four home runs (three grand slams, according to MaxPreps), 35 RBIs and 11 runs scored.

She is a special talent and it is only fitting that she ends her high school career on the biggest stage of the season.

Clutch hitting and big plays in the field

Tri-West’s lineup is not as robust as last season. Understandably so. Last year’s senior class included four of the team’s best hitters.

That by no means means the Bruins are completely devoid of hitting. Danica James (.362, 34 hits, seven doubles, 18 RBIs, 19 runs), Emma Frye (.300, 27 hits, six homers 27 runs, 22 RBIs), Emma Charles (.282, three homers, 14 RBIs) and the aforementioned Hensley (.346, 12 RBIs, three home runs in 11 games) were all solid at the plate behind Lowry.

But runs can be tough (202 this season) and the team’s batting average hovers around .300.

And yet the Bruins have still found ways to win games.

Archive: ‘She’s a light in the dugout’: Tri-West’s McKenna Hagemier returns to 3A finals in new role

Monday it was Hensley, whose exploits vs. Silver Creek were preceded by a three-run stunner that proved to be the difference against Hamilton Heights. James came through in the clutch during both the sectional and regional championship games, collecting two hits, three RBIs and three runs. A 3-1 regular season victory over state finalist Cascade featured a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs from Charles.

Tri-West finds ways to win games.

Another secretly important part of this team’s success: timely play in the field. Freshman catcher Kacee Trivett (Lowry’s third different catcher in three seasons) made some big plays to shut down potential Silver Creek rallies Monday. She threw out a runner trying to steal second base after Lowry’s no-hitter broke up, then made a diving play behind home plate on a pop-up bunt to swing the momentum back to the Bruins after the second hit allowed was allowed.

Pressure-free

I’ll leave you all with this bit of insight from Miller on his team’s mentality.

Tri-West was under immense pressure to return to the state finals last season and while expectations remained sky high in 2024, they are a younger team and were able to stay loose as the season progressed.

“They played without pressure,” Miller said. “They played because they love each other, love the game and we’re trying to go.”

Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.

Class 3A: No. 2 Tri-West (28-6) vs. No. 3 Western (28-2)

WHEN: 7pm, Saturday

WHERE: Purdue’s Bittinger Stadium

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