Chesterton's postseason softball victories against Lake Central and Crown Point caught me off guard, since the Trojans were 0-4 in the regular season against their Duneland Athletic Conference foes.
At least one person seems to have seen this coming.
"We may struggle at the beginning, but I'm confident that our leaders will help us get where we need to be," Chesterton coach LouAnn Hopson wrote in a preseason email. "We are making huge improvements daily. Offensively, we are pretty solid. When everything comes together, we should be in the hunt."
In the hunt? With a berth in Saturday's Class 4A Harrison of West Lafayette Semistate, it appears Chesterton have already felled a 12-point buck.
The Trojans (21-10) are only three wins away from the program's first state title. I'm not predicting that the Trojans will make their second state finals appearance just yet, but their transformation in the last couple of weeks is impressive.
With just a few weeks left in the regular season, we dropped them from our Top 10 poll for other schools with much better win-loss records. They were No. 6 in our final poll of the year. The Trojans and No. 3 Andrean are the lone two local representatives left in the postseason.
Chesterton lost 8-7 and 4-0 to the Bulldogs in DAC play, but erased those bad memories with a thrilling 7-6 win in the sectional. The Indians defeated the Trojans 5-0 and 12-3, then Chesterton scored eight two-out runs in the fourth inning en route to a 10-8 regional win.
In the preseason email, Hopson listed eight returning players. Six made major contributions in the postseason, including the sectional championship and regional.
Sydney Cooley erupted for two home runs and seven RBIs in a 13-3 sectional semifinal win against Hobart, while teammate Sammie Howard added a double and three RBIs.
In the seventh-inning rally against C.P., Megan Matheny closed the deficit to 6-5 with an RBI double, then Mallory McKee ended the game with a two-run single.
Megan Tymorek had a three-run home run in the key frame against Lake Central. She added a solo homer later. Also, Tymorek (17-8) has pitched every postseason inning for Chesterton.
Chesterton is tied for the second-most losses of any 4A team left in the field, but that certainly doesn't mean the Trojans will make quick exit this weekend. Hopson was inducted into the Indiana Softball Hall of Fame two years, and her early belief in her 2012 team makes me think the HOF voters got it right.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.