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Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.

ST. JOHN — Cheyenne Mathas' faith is extremely important to her. It is a large part of the seconds in her days, but the Lake Central senior softball player doesn't beat people over the head with it.

"I'm not just, 'church, church, church, church,'" the Indians center fielder said before Thursday's practice. "I don't do that."

But she is a member of Faith Church in Dyer and it is extremely important to her. She has worked in the day care and coffee shop. She has dear friends who help lead her in her Christian faith.

"It's really important to me," Mathas said. "It has impacted my life in a very big way. The people at the church, they cheer me up if I'm feeling down. Everyone is family there."

A look of peace was on Mathas' eyes as she spoke of her faith, but she didn't go into great, deep detail.

“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary,” is a quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Mathas agrees that actions are more important than words.

Lake Central softball coach Jeff Sherman didn't have a lot of faith in Mathas' bat when the season started. The first few weeks of the season all Mathas did was use her speed and knowledge in center field, where she's started the last three years. But she got back into the lineup and has been hitting ever since.

Heading into Saturday's Class 4A West Lafayette Harrison Semistate opener against Penn, Mathas is hitting .304 with 17 runs and 10 RBIs. Her 10th RBI was the biggest as she hit a ground ball to short that scored the game-winning run against Chesterton in Tuesday's regional.

"I just had to believe I could do it, hit the ball," Mathas said of her turnaround offensively. "I had to do that and believe in my teammates, too."

She had a typical Region athletic childhood. Her mom, Julie, played softball at Bloom and T.F. South. Her older brother, Tyler, and younger sister, Brittani, spent countless hours in the backyard playing Wiffle Ball, or anything else.

From ages 5-7, Cheyenne played flag football against boys in the Tri Town Raiders. She was so good they asked her to stay on and play tackle football in the older age groups. But ...

"My mom said no," Mathas said. "She said I was too small."

So she played youth soccer and basketball, too. She came off the bench for Joe Huppenthal's Lake Central girls basketball team that won a sectional championship in February.

Then lost by two in the regional championship. To, who else, Penn.

"It's going to be a grind," Mathas said of the semistate field, which features Noblesville and Leo on the other side of the bracket.

Lake Central beat Penn 5-2 on April 27.

"We can't go in there expecting to win," Mathas said. "We have to give everything we've got. It's going to take all of us working together."

Mathas recently decided to continue her softball career at Lakeland University in Wisconsin.

Amen.

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

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