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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

South Putnam ready for state title game

Friday, June 10, 2011

Kelsey Whitaker [Order this photo]
For three years it's been their dream, and now they stand on the brink of making that dream a reality. South Putnam's softball team will play for the state title against Woodlan Saturday, with the game being a contest of the top two ranked teams in Class 2A.

South Putnam head coach Chris Jones said it is how it should be with the two powerhouses battling for the state title.

"Yeah, I think it's how it's supposed to be," Jones said. "If you had to map it out to start the tournament, I'm sure that everyone wanted to see No. 1 and No. 2 play and I know we sure wanted to be there. We're excited about the opportunity we have to win a state championship."

Going against Woodlan will almost be as if the Eagles are looking into a mirror. The Warriors have a dominant pitcher; sound defense and can hit the ball with ease. Sounds familiar. But Jones believes the victor will be the one who can understand that while the victory will be the biggest of the season, the game itself is exactly the same.

"I think whoever can relax and realize it's just a game," Jones said. "It's just another game. It's both of our first appearances and so whoever can figure that out the quickest that's it's just another softball game and you want to go out and play the same way you've been playing the rest of them.

"Hopefully since we're visitors we'll be able to jump on the board a little early and maybe get them rattled. Then it's just taking care of business. Putting the ball in play and putting pressure on the defense. Then defensively, not making errors and not making mistakes," Jones added.

Janet Crafton
While the game is approximately a two-hour jaunt from Woodlan's school, the site for the championship game is essentially in South Putnam's backyard. With the site's close proximity to South Putnam, Jones believes the red, white and blue of Eagles pride will be seen in full force Saturday.

"It's nice for us because I think of this as a Speedway trip," he explained. "It's probably slightly shorter going to Ben Davis than it is getting to Speedway, but it's the say type of idea of going there -- similar distance and getting ready to play. We've gone down 70 multiple times into Indianapolis to play softball in the past three years and so we'll just treat that just the same.

"Atmosphere-wise, I don't think you could get a lot better than what we had at our regional this year and last year," Jones continued. "Talk about huge crowds -- and they'll be another one. This South Putnam community and then the Putnam County community I know is going to back this team similar to the way they did North Putnam football earlier in the year.

"We're expecting a big crowd in the sense that we're only about an hour away, so that's got to be a small advantage. Maybe we can have a little home field advantage for us going the short distance to Ben Davis," he added.

Jones knows he has one more game before his ultimate goal can be attained, but he admitted that he's been enjoying the ride up to this point.

"It feels great I won't lie," Jones said. "To have the opportunity to savor this Saturday night, Sunday into Monday and part of the day today (Tuesday) and hopefully the girls have enjoyed it. Right now with this being our first practice in preparation, we're ready to get down to business and start the focus.

"I won't lie, I've enjoyed it for the few days that I've been able to because I've been told by people 'enjoy the ride' and that's what we're trying to do. Enjoy it and then realize if we can get one more, you're going to get to enjoy it so much longer," he added.

And once the game is finished and both squads have walked from the field, Jones said he knows regardless of the outcome, this is something his team will cherish for the rest of their lives.

"But just to have the opportunity to be in position to win a state championship is something remarkable and something for these girls to be proud of," Jones said. "I know, regardless of the outcome, they're going to be proud of this their entire lives and this community will be proud of them as well.

"For the way they've came out and they've represented this school and community and hopefully we can represent this school and community with a state championship," he said.

South Putnam will face Woodlan for the IHSAA Class 2A State Softball Title Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Ben Davis High School.