The Southridge Raiders made history a season ago, by advancing to their first ever state baseball title appearance. The Raiders came up one run short, but were determined to get back to the big stage the following season. Now, Southridge will try once again to bring home the gold, Joe Downs has more.
“We have unfinished business,” said Sophomore Catcher Chase Taylor. “28 games, those were just practice games.”
The Southridge baseball team has been on “Redemption Road” for an entire season. It was in the 2A State Championship Game that their dreams of Indiana gold were dashed in a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Boone Grove.
“The message at the beginning of the year was, basically, try and get back,” said Southridge Head Baseball Coach Gene Mattingly. “Try to accomplish what we weren’t able to get done last year.”
“Our main goal is to win state,” said Southridge Senior Left Fielder Patrick Sander. “When we lost, there was unfinished business. Our business is to win. This year we’ve been calling them ‘business trips’, and when we played here at regional, we called it an ‘office meeting’.
The Raiders have employed a formula familiar to the one that got them to Victory Field a year ago. A formula centered around an ace pitcher and clutch hitting.
“Last year we rolled into the state finals with Logan Sager on the mound and he was 11-0,” said Mattingly. “I think Ethan’s 9-1. So, same type of pitcher, just pound the strike zone, play good defense behind him and try to scratch out enough runs to win.”
“I just throw strikes and do my job,” said Sophomore Pitcher Ethan Bell. “If they score one or two, it’s ok. I know we’re going to get them back. That’s how we always have been. That’s how it was in the Linton game. They score four, we scored four. We scored two, then all I had to do was throw strikes.”
And the results speak for themselves, especially in the post season, as the Raiders have outscored the opposition 50-5.
“The weather gets a little warmer, the ball’s jumping a little better, we run a little bit, we’re able to put some pressure on, and hit some balls in the gap, and we’re able to put up some crooked numbers up,” said Mattingly.
And they’ll need to continue on that path as they face an Alexandria-Monroe squad that has been just as devastating in the post season, blasting the competition by a combined tally of 54-10.
“They have a pretty good right-hander,” said Sander. “I’ve heard they also resemble Linton-Stockton, who we played in sectional.”
“They’re aggressive on the base paths,” said Taylor. “They have like 160 stolen bases this year, I think. I take that personally for me. I hope they challenge. That’s what baseball is all about, and that’s what being a catcher is, being challenged.”
However, the Raiders remain undaunted, as they are a team with a dream.
Having a second chance, not everybody gets that, and just to get that second chance is something else,” said Bell. “Being able to get that ‘finished business’ would be just amazing.”
“It would mean the world to me,” said Taylor. “Last year, at the end of the game, it really crushed us all. I know how much it means to the rest of the team. We’re on a mission. That’s what we need to do.”
“We’ve been right there, and I just want to go out on top,” said Sander. “This is my last season, and I just really want to make it bang.”