WEST LAFAYETTE — The Lake Central softball team went from the peak of elation to the depths of depression in one inning Saturday night.
Moments after Rylee Platusic sent the Lake Central faithful into a state of euphoria with a two-run single in the top of sixth inning, Decatur Central struck back with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to win the Class 4A state title game with a 5-2 come-from-behind victory.
The Hawks took advantage of three Lake Central errors in the sixth inning as four of the first five batters scored. Just five outs away from what would’ve been the fourth state title in program history, the Indians were left to wonder what might have been on Saturday night.
“It takes a little bit of luck to get to the state title game and our luck just ran out tonight,” Lake Central senior pitcher Alexa Pinarski said. “I’m proud of all the hard work that we put in to get to this point.”
Trailing 1-0 after five innings, the Indians (29-5) got their first two runners to open the sixth inning when Cheyenne Mathas and Gabi Carra walked. Decatur Central relief pitcher Kenzee Smith recovered to get a pair of infield groundouts, bringing Platusic to the plate. Mired in a 1-for-21 postseason slump, Platusic delivered the biggest hit of her career when she blasted a single to the opposite field that scored both runs, giving Lake Central a 2-1 lead.
“I’m so proud of Rylee. She wanted nothing more than to come up big for us right there,” Lake Central coach Jeff Sherman said. “What a great at-bat. She gave us a chance.”
The elation was short lived as Decatur Central made Lake Central pay for every mistake in the bottom half of the sixth inning. A booted ground ball, a dropped foul ball and a bumbling of a bunt attempt all eventually led to runs scoring for the Hawks. By the time Pinarski struck out Payton Baxter for the third out of the inning, Decatur Central had scored four runs off three hits and three Lake Central errors.
“You can’t be anything but proud of these girls,” Sherman said. “Decatur put some pressure on us. Take nothing away from what they did. They deserve all the credit. I’m so proud of our team, especially our seven seniors for all they accomplished.”
Lake Central senior Jessi Kiefor was named the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner after the game and was honored along with her family prior to the Indians receiving their runner-up medals. Kiefor, who survived a horrific car accident last fall, was one of seven Lake Central seniors that played in their final high school game of their careers on Saturday night.
“(The Mental Attitude Award) fits me well,” Kiefor said. “I’ve went through a lot this whole year. Getting $1,000 is nice, but I would’ve liked the ring more.”
The Indians finished with three hits on Saturday as Gabi Carra went 2-for-2 to go along with Platusic’s two-run single. Pinarski gave up four hits and five runs, with just one earned run, in six innings to go along with four strikeouts.