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Cascade tops Lapel for first state championship

Rich Torres, Special to
Posted: June 7, 2024
Cascade vs Lapel graphic
Photo Credit: Double Edge Media @demllc

WEST LAFAYETTE – Cascade’s Grace Gray knew what she had to do Friday night at Purdue University’s Bittinger Stadium.

Hitting leadoff for the top-ranked Class 2A Cadets (30-2), Gray laced a double to right field, sparking a two-run top of the first before carrying a perfect game through 3.1 innings and a no-hitter for five complete frames.

Gray finished in the circle with two hits allowed, three walks issued, a hit batter and 13 strikeouts to lead the Cadets to their first-ever softball state championship with a 4-2 win over No. 6 Lapel during the 39th Annual Indiana High School Athletic Association State Finals.

“I was pumped. I was feeling myself. I just felt so good overall, and this is the perfect time to do it in the state title game,” Gray said. “I was pretty confident in myself.”

Her self-assurance both at the plate and in the circle set the tone for the Cadets, who like Lapel (24-6) were competing in their first softball state championship game.


2023-24 SB 2A Photo 2
Cascade's Grace Gray struck out 13 batters for the state champion Cadets (Photo credit: Double Edge Media @demllc).


Gray retired the 10 batters she faced before a walk drawn by Lapel’s Tatum Harper in the bottom of the fourth ended the junior ace’s bid at a perfect game.

A leadoff bunt executed for a single by Lapel’s lone senior Krystin Davis (1-for-3) in the bottom of the sixth ended the no-hitter, but Gray, a Ball State recruit, closed six of seven innings with a strikeout.

“They couldn’t score five runs on us in two weeks. They barely got the two they got. It’s a good team. Don’t get me wrong. They were on a roll, but it is what it is,” Cascade head coach Brett Taber said. “That’s what she’s all about, and that’s what the game is all about. An overpowering pitcher is going to dominate the game, and we hit theirs, and they couldn’t hit her for a few innings.”

Gray entered the state finals with 229 strikeouts in 127.0 innings pitched, a 17-2 record and a 1.65 ERA.

Against Lapel, the left-hander was charged with only one earned run, an RBI single by Laylah Gore (1-for-3) in the bottom of the sixth to score Davis, who reached third base following a walk and a sacrifice fly by Paige Stires.

A throwing error to third base during Gore’s hit to pick off Harper, who was advancing from second base, sailed high and provided Lapel with both of its runs.

“For the hit to come from (Davis) to lead it off was bittersweet,” Lapel head coach AJ Balser said. “(Gray) threw a great game. She throws hard. We were struggling to hit the ball, and we got a couple of opportunities there in the sixth and we were able to at least get on the board but hats off to them. They’re a great team. Their pitcher is top-notch.”

Lapel upended rivals No. 10 Frankton, Alexandria-Monroe and Madison-Grant en route to the Warsaw Semistate before defeating No. 4 South Adams in the semifinal and later Hebron to clinch their first-ever state berth.

The Bulldogs were aiming to become the first softball state champion from Madison County since Frankton won the Class 1A title in 2000.


2023-24 SB 2A Photo 3
Photo credit: Double Edge Media @demllc


“Our mentality all year was weather the storm, and that’s exactly what we did. We had to take advantage of the opportunities given, and we were able to take advantage of a couple,” Balser said. “At the end of the day, I’m proud of this team. They earned the right to be here. This wasn’t an easy road for us, and we’re going to keep building the program and hopefully we’re back here again someday.”

The first four frames supplied all the Cadets needed.

Gray’s (2-for-4) double in the top of the first inning fueled the Cadets, despite getting thrown out at third base, as she tried to stretch her extra-base hit.

Her first of two doubles dominoed into a walk drawn by Tara Gruca, a double by Ava Allen (2-for-4) and then a two-run single by Lacie Godby (2-for-3).  

Cascade led 2-0 before Lapel could record another out.

“It’s easy to get nervous in that situation, but we have so much confidence in your offense that we don’t really get nervous. I got that good hit, and I knew that’s setting the tone,” Gray said. “I don’t care if I got out on the bases. I got that good hit, and I’m setting the tone and trusting everyone behind me to get a hit and keep it rolling.”

Cascade plated a run in the top of the third following Gray’s second leadoff double, which tied an individual 2A state finals record for most in a state championship contest.

The Cadets loaded the bases with one out behind a pair of walks before Gray scored from third base on a passed ball. A pinch-hit RBI single by Caitlin Gryszowka in the top of the fourth, scoring Adie Paschal (1-for-3), increased the Cadets’ advantage 4-0.

The Cadets finished with eight hits, four walks and five strikeouts, while Lapel left four runners on base – one in scoring position.

“As powerful as she is and as good as her defense is, we’ve got out of so many jams. It’s incredible,” Taber said. “I just sit back, and it is what it is.”

What it is now is the first-ever team state championship trophy at Cascade in any sport.

“It’s like monumental for the program. We’ve always been a small school, and people even call us ‘Trash-cade,’ like they don’t expect us to be this good at things,” Gray said. “We came out here and showed people. It’s just amazing. It’s a great feeling.”

Six starters returned this year from Cascade’s regional championship roster in 2023. In 2025, the Cadets soon-to-be 3A program will return every single player on the roster except one senior reserve.

“It’s really big for the kids, the kids at school and the administration, the teachers that have been there for a long time. I had a lot of people that I knew graduated from Cascade in the stands, and it was cool to see them there,” Taber said. “It’s going to be tougher, but we think we could have competed in 3A this year.”


2023-24 SB 2A Photo 1
Photo credit: Double Edge Media @demllc


Class 2A State Championship Records

Most Combined Walks (Tied): 7 by Cascade (4) and Lapel (3).

Most Doubles (Tied): 2 by Grace Gray, Cascade.

Lapel’s Krystin Davis earns Mental Attitude Award
At the conclusion of the game, Krystin Davis of Lapel High School was announced as the recipient of the Mental Attitude Award for Class 2A Softball.

The award is annually presented to a senior participant in the state finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability and is nominated by her principal and coach. 

Krystin graduated near the top of her class and was a member of the National Honor Society. She was also the treasurer of the health & science club, a Bulldog mentor, and a volunteer at Animal Protection League.

Athletically, she earned 2024 Second Team All-State honors, holds Lapel's school record for career hits, single-season hits, single-season stolen bases, and earned Academic All-State recognition. She also received Lapel's Outstanding Female Athlete Award this year.

Davis becomes the first Lapel girl to win an IHSAA mental attitude award and the third overall in school history. Jason Holsinger was a boys basketball recipient in 2005 and Luke Combs was honored for boys cross country in 2019.

Krystin is the daughter of Schlonda Muncy of Anderson, IN and will attend Purdue University to study Pharmaceutical Sciences. 

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance presented a $1,000 scholarship to Lapel High School in the name of Krystin Davis.

2023-24 SB 2A Photo 4
Photo credit: Double Edge Media @demllc