CEDAR LAKE | Ivy Dawson owns a bird. His name is Horatio. She brings it to every Hanover Central softball game.
It is a good-luck charm
Teammate Ashley Yoways was striking everyone out in a game earlier this season. Dawson was struggling a bit.
So a Wildcats' mother told Dawson, "If you get your head in the game I'll buy you a bird."
She did and Horatio arrived.
"We were riding in the bus from Lowell and someone asked coach Larry (McMillen) what his middle name was," Dawson said. "He said his fake middle name was Horatio. So that's what my bird's name became."
Horatio and company will be traveling to Monticello on Saturday as Hanover plays Fairfield in the Class 3A Twin Lakes Semistate. The 'Cats are just two wins away from playing in the state championship game.
And if they want to fly Dawson's wings will play a major role. She is batting .450 with seven home runs, eight doubles and 27 RBIs.
Not bad for a kid who arrived at the school as a freshman from Buffalo, N.Y., where she played high school ball in the eighth grade.
Her name, Ivy, comes from "some nurse on a soap opera," she said. "But I have no clue which one."
She has started at shortstop since she arrived. McMillen said it took a little time before she developed into the player she is today.
"She was kind of wild, undisciplined," McMillen said. "We took away the bad habits by working with her and she's turned out to be pretty good."
Dawson said the move to Indiana wasn't too bad. She grew up in Tonawanda, N.Y., not fair from Niagara Falls.
"There's a lot more cornfields here," she quipped. "But I like it here. This is a small town, too."
Defense has been huge in the Wildcats postseason run. They did not give up a run in sectional wins over Kankakee Valley and Andrean. They did not have an error against Griffith in the regional.
"That's been the difference," McMillen said. "We're playing very good defense right now. That helps you win."
Dawson is fired up for Saturday's games. She has a strong commitment to the three seniors on this team.
"This is a pretty good feeling," she said after Wednesday's 6-1 win over Griffith was completed. "I don't want us to be done. I love our seniors, they're like sisters to us.
"We want to take this as far as we can, for them."
And, of course, for Horatio, too.