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Roncalli softball team seeks to finish three-peat

Roncalli softball team seeks to finish three-peat

By Mark Ambrogi

The Roncalli High School softball team’s path to the Class 4A state championship game has been a little rocky this season.

“It has been a little different,” Royals coach David Lauck said. “We’ve all had to be a little more patient and trust the process for advancing in the tournament.”

Senior Keagan Rothrock, ranked as the nation’s top-ranked high school pitchers, was recovering from two leg surgeries in the winter. She wasn’t cleared to play until right before the season.

“By mid-May she was looking to be close to back to normal form,” Lauck said.

Rothrock threw a no-hitter in an 8-0 victory over Pendleton Heights in the Center Grove Semistate. The Royals (31-3-1) will face Penn (27-4-1) at 7 p.m. June 10 in the IHSAA Class 4A state championship game at Purdue University’s Bittinger Stadium in West Lafayette. Roncalli is seeking its third consecutive state title.

“No one knew in the beginning of the season if she was going to be able to pitch, or how she was going to do,” Royals left fielder Abbey Hofmann said. “I do not think she knew, either. Without Keagan, our team is a completely different team. We were scared, but we also had faith in each player on the team that we were still going to get the job done.”

The Roncalli High School softball team celebrates with its semistate trophy. (Photo courtesy of Roncalli Athletics)

Penn blew by Roncalli 13-3 April 22, but Rothrock did not pitch in that game.

“Penn has deep and talented pitching,” Lauck said. “They can also hit up and down their lineup and play fantastic defense. They were the most impressive team, top to bottom, that we played this year. We are in fact playing the best team from the North.”

The Royals have outscored their opponents 70-2 in the postseason.

“When Lyla Blackwell and Carley Keller get on base, we are hard to beat,” Lauck said. “The bats behind them of Emma Fegan, Abbey Hofmann and Keagan Rothrock drive in a lot of runs and have carried us the past couple of rounds.

Blackwell, a senior, leads the Royals with a .557 average, Rothrock is hitting .500 with a team-high eight homers. Fegan, a junior, is hitting .529 and Keller .523.

“I believe we started peaking right after our Penn game towards the middle of the season in April at Carmel,” said Hofmann, who is hitting .505 with seven homers. “That game proved to anyone that we are a beatable team and gave us an underdog mentality. After that game, we went on a huge run outscoring opponents by huge amounts. We run-ruled teams (the mercy rule) that should not have been run-ruled. I think after that loss, we had a fire in us that wanted to prove to other teams that we are still the Roncalli softball team (that won the past two state titles). The postseason gets us excited and pushes us to play our best considering it could be our last game at any time. That is why I think we have performed great in postseason.”

Roncalli left fielder
Abbey Hofmann is
hitting .505 with
seven homers.
(Photo courtesy of
Abbey Hofmann)

Rothrock has a 25-1 record with a 0.51 earned run average.

Along with Blackwell, Hofmann and Rothrock, the other seniors who start are Lauren Marsicek, Ann Marie Meek, Anna Dressman, Abby Willis and Kaitlyn Leister.

Rothrock (University of Florida), Blackwell, (Virginia Tech) and Marsicek (Indiana State) are headed to Division I programs. Hofmann will play at Marian University. Willis and Ann Marie Meek are headed to play at Millikin University.

Kaitlyn Leister will play at IU Southeast.

“It is quite special and fortunate to have seniors who have experienced these moments before,” Hofmann said.

Hofmann said having so many senior starters is special.

“It provides leadership that is necessary for our team,” she said. “It is amazing to be able to lean on one another and to be able to have so much fun one last time with our seniors. I believe our senior class has set an example for the underclassmen to follow the legacy we brought.”

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