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Lapel falls to Cascade in 2A softball final

Jun. 7—WEST LAFAYETTE — As the runner-up medals were being draped around the necks of the Lapel softball players at the conclusion of the Class 2A state championship game Friday night, the lone Bulldogs senior was experiencing a mix of emotions.

There were tears, to be sure, at the realization she had played her final softball game but also the hint of a smile as she felt pride in the accomplishments of her team.

"Definitely a mix of emotions," she said. "I was so proud of my team for being here, but also said knowing that this was my last game. Definitely a heart-felt moment."

The historic season for the Bulldogs came just short of the ultimate finish Friday after Lapel fell 4-2 against top-ranked Cascade at Bittinger Stadium on the campus of Purdue University.

After the game, Davis was presented with the mental attitude award for 2A.

"She's a class act. She really is," Lapel coach A.J. Balser said. "She's a great worker on and off the field."

Davis, who ignited a late Lapel rally with the first hit of the game for the Bulldogs, established new single-season program records this year in stolen bases (31), runs scored (tied at 44), total hits (57) and most hits (six) in a game.

A 2024 second-team All-State selection, she is also the career record holder for hits and putouts by a shortstop, was named Academic All-State and is the third mental attitude award winner in Lapel history but the first girl to win the award after Jason Holsinger took home the prize for boys basketball in 2005 and Luke Combs for cross country in 2019.

The award is presented to a senior participant in the state finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship leadership and athletic ability. Lapel was presented with a $1,000 scholarship in Davis' name.

"It made me cry less, honestly," Davis said. "That meant a lot to me to be voted on for that."

Cascade (30-2) took command early with a pair of runs in the first inning.

With one out, Tara Gruca drew a walk and moved to third on a double to left by Ava Allen. Both runners scored on a single to left by Lacie Godby.

The Cadets added to the lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings. Gracie Gray doubled, stole third and scored on a passed ball to increase the lead to 3-0, and Adie Paschal doubled and scored on a pinch-hit single by Caitlin Gryszowka.

That lead appeared safe behind the pitching of Gray, who was perfect through three innings and struck out six of the first nine batters she faced.

Lapel finally got a pair of baserunners in the fourth when Tatum Harper and Paige Stires worked Gray for walks, and Addie Bodenhorn reached to lead off the fifth when she was hit by a pitch, but each time the Bulldogs came up empty.

That changed in the sixth, and it was Davis who got the rally started.

She dropped a well-placed bunt and beat the throw to first, leading off the inning with the team's first hit. Harper walked, and both runners advanced on a Stires fly ball to right. Laylah Gore drove home Davis with an infield single, and Harper followed the senior leader home when a throw to third was wild, and the Bulldogs' deficit was trimmed in half.

The dugout and the Lapel fans were energized by the senior leader.

"She just has the talent and the ability to read things," Balser said. "She'll go on her own a lot of times when I don't even tell her. We trust her, and we trust her speed."

But Gray — a Ball State commit — responded with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning and retired the Bulldogs in order in the seventh to claim the first team championship in Cascade history.

Davis was in the on-deck circle when the final out was recorded, meaning the last trip to the plate for the career .503 hitter was a single.

And it was a meaningful hit to the senior.

"I really wanted to get on base," she said. "I love being on base. Getting on base in my last plate appearance made this a little less hurtful."

Davis is the lone senior for the Bulldogs, and she has been a valued mentor for the younger players.

"She is a huge leader on our team," Stires, a sophomore outfielder and second baseman, said. "I love her so much because she plays middle infield, and this year was the first time I played middle infield, so I was nervous. She made sure that, whether I made a mistake or not, she was there for me."

"K.D. would stay around after practice and help the girls out, just a great mentor," Balser said. "A lot of times when they had a question, they'd go to her instead of us."

Davis is excited about what the future holds for the program.

"I'm super excited because, even though I'm leaving, the juniors have built their leadership," she said. "They know that, even thought I'm leaving, they can be leaders."

"We're going to miss Krystin, and she was a huge part of our team, but this is showing all of us — even those who aren't playing as much — we have the potential and all the stuff to win it and get back here next year," Stires said.

The next time Davis visits Bittinger Stadium will be as a spectator as she will continue her academic career at Purdue, where she will study pharmaceutical sciences.

"I'll be here," she said with a smile.

Contact Rob Hunt at

rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.