PORTAGE | In looking at the 2013 state softball media package, there is something different, trending among the eight programs that will fight for state championships today.
Half of the coaches at Indianapolis Ben Davis today are women. And all four of them are in the two biggest classes, Class 3A's Tri-West Hendricks' Stacey Rogers and Yorktown's Chrissie Saunders.
And in 4A we have Portage's Lisa Hayes vs. Franklin Central's Kathy Stricker.
Stricker is in her 34th season. She started coaching when most programs were coached by men. The other three female state finalists have eight years combined as head coaches.
"Our girls have really come together this year," Stricker said. "We had a late start because of the spring snow, No one predicted us to even win our sectional. But these kids came together and found a way. I am so proud of them."
Any wonder why Stricker has won 518 games in her career?
Hayes, on the other hand, has 43 wins in two years coaching The Tribe. But there are some similarities between the two, beyond having dugouts filled with talent.
Portage was batting .333 after the sectionals in my eye. The Indians played one good game out of three. The two bad ones did not give me any inclination that this was a team that was going to be playing for a state championship.
Honestly, one regional win was all I was seeing. If that.
But it was Hayes who brought in a broken-down sign that said, "B-E-L-I-E-V-E" and the "v" was broken off. Simple and silly, this $10 icon purchased at a gift shop has become a burning image of this team.
Do male coaches look for inspiration in a Hallmark store?
"I am so proud of these girls," Hayes said on Wednesday. "They could've quit many times this year but they did not. They refused to lose. They have found a way."
Now a good coach is a good coach no matter if they go left or right to use the washroom. The region has had many male coaches through the years who have been outstanding and we still do.
This area has had bad female and male coaches, too.
But there is a different aura about these Indians. They seem absolutely connected with their coach and her ideas. And this Girl Club has taken this program to the biggest stage in the state.
"Coach has been awesome," sophomore pitcher Kiley Jones said. "She's done a great job bringing us all together. We want to win this for her."
"We are a family," junior Alexis Johnson said.
We'll see how this continues. More women will likely get into coaching prep softball. I think this is good.
Well, if they are good, like Hayes.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.