Minutes after Monday's Class 4A Chesterton Sectional final ended, a box of T-shirts proclaiming Hobart as champions was brought onto the field.
It wouldn't have been the first time a pre-emptive purchase was made and the team ended up losing, but I'm guessing someone was pretty confident in the Brickies' chances of winning to drop the bucks on the celebratory apparel.
It was actually a pretty fitting move for a group that didn't shy away from its lofty aspirations. From the time they put together the preseason video of the players in tuxedos in a limousine to right now, these Brickies talked the talk, and now they've walked the walk.
"I really believed in the guys. I have the last couple years," coach Bob Glover, Jr. said. "Coming into the season, I thought it was important they understand how much I believe in them."
That's probably one reason why Glover gave his team a little more leash, to let them show their personality. Whether it was responding to an opponent with a point to the scoreboard or some chirping in the hand-shake line, these Brickies carry themselves with a swagger. Not everyone likes it, but they say it isn't bragging if you can back it up, and Glover's not about to apologize.
"They've worn it," he said. "They've made all the commitments, the sacrifices. They've done all those things, knowing there's no guarantee of having it end really good."
The T-shirts aside, Hobart did well at staying in the moment. With all the talk around them of making a deep tournament run, they couldn't peak ahead. Any kind of slip-up and the seniors, the group that's spurred the program's return to relevance, would graduate without any hardware to show for it.
"It would be awesome to win regionals, but we weren't looking beyond any of our opponents," Murray said. "The key was focusing game to game, pitch to pitch. If you were listening closely, you could hear (people in the dugout) saying how many outs there were to go. It's something we started doing and we're keeping on it. It helps you stay in the game."
Glover played for the Brickies and was an assistant coach at the old City Ball Park with the chain link monster in left field. He took over as head coach a year after the move to the new digs, assuming the reins of a program that has produced talent but has been largely mired in mediocrity, as evidenced by the 21-year drought of sectional titles. He can be excused for crowing just a tad at the cynics who said it would never happen.
"A lot of people have been very supportive of what we've done since I took over," he said. "This wouldn't have been possible without all the parents who supported us, the families, the booster club, the people who coached these kids growing up. We were pulling from three grades to put our best team out there."
And now that the Brickies have won a title, they're looking to dig deeper into the post-season pie.
"I certainly don't think they're ready to be done playing," Glover said.
The luxury of a deep pitching staff with Murray, Brandon Barnes and Braden Niksich, two Division I recruits and a third likely-to be, gives Hobart as good a chance as anybody, arguably better than many.
"We're trying to make it to the state championship," Murray said, "and this is the beginning of it."