The goal was clear: Major, major improvement.
Make no mistake:
The Cathedral High School softball team reached that objective during the 2018 season, and established itself as one of the up-and-coming programs in Central Indiana.
The Irish, after several seasons under coach Tony Matthews working toward a breakthrough season, had that season in 2018. They spent much of the season ranked in the Top 10 in the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association softball poll.
After a 16-17 season in 2017, they entered the Class 4A, Section 10 tournament with a 21-8 record. They were ranked No. 14 in the ISCGA poll at the time, and were scheduled to play Lawrence North in the semifinal of the sectional on May 22.
“It’s starting to come in to where the kids are believing,” Matthews said of the season. “We’re working out, ‘That’s the way we do it at Cathedral; you’ve got to work hard at it.’ It’s starting to pay off now.”
The Irish opened the season with a 7-0 record and were ranked No. 3 in the April 9 ICGS poll, emerging as a contending team in 2018 with a combination of a strong sophomore class and a solid group of senior leaders.
The Irish also won the 2018 City Alliance tournament, beating Scecina 11-1 in the title game on May 5.
“I felt like this was the year we were going to be getting better,” Matthews said this season. “We told our group, ‘We’re not waiting for two years until you guys are seniors; it’s time to go now.’’’
Senior first baseman Brittany Ford was hitting .415 with eight home runs and 42 runs batted in during the regular season, and senior second baseman/outfielder Jordan Lyman was batting .338 with five doubles and three home runs.
Matthews said the program’s seniors “stepped up” in 2018 with “strong leadership.”
Catcher Grace Lorsung led a strong sophomore class through the regular season, batting .500 with 10 home runs and 37 runs batted in. Sophomore centerfielder Mia Dittoe hit .418 with 26 runs batted in and two home runs through the regular season games and junior shortstop/centerfielder Lily Jennings hit leadoff with a .562 average and 34 runs scored.
Sophomore pitcher Anika Garwood had a 1.95 earned run average with a 13-5 record and 110 strikeouts in 101.1 innings pitched through seven games.
Matthews during the season said there was a feeling that work needed to be done for the program to reach its eventual goal of contending and winning a state title, but said the program’s underclassmen – a strong core for the future – was capable of that sort of development.
“They want the challenge for it,” Matthews said. “They’re ready for it. They’ve done their homework and prepared for it. They know coming to Cathedral with [assistant coach Linda Bamrick] and myself they’re going to have work. They’re accepting that. The seventh- and eighth-graders who are coming are working hard. They know it’s a good softball program coming in.
“It’s definitely a good feeling. Winning is definitely fun. Seeing the girls succeed, it’s good to see. It’s hard to build and it’s a long haul. We’ve got a ways to go, but we’re going down the right road.”
Editor’s note: Because of printer deadlines, the postseason results of the Cathedral softball team were unavailable at press time. For information on the Irish’s postseason softball results for 2018, please visit gocathedral.com.