Skip to main content

Main navigation


Western rides freshman pitcher's big performance to first crown

Ken Thompson, Special to
Posted: June 8, 2024
Tri-West Hendricks vs Western graphic
Photo Credit: Double Edge Media @demllc

WEST LAFAYETTE - Making its first state appearance in 30 years, Western broke through for the school’s first softball title with a 1-0 victory against Tri-West in the Class 3A state championship game Saturday night in Bittinger Stadium on the campus of Purdue University.

Western (29-2) gives the Howard County school its fourth state championship. The Panthers previously won Class 3A titles in baseball (2012) and girls basketball (2014). Western’s girls golf team brought home the state trophy in 2002.

Tri-West, which finishes 28-7, claimed its third consecutive runner-up finish.

Western rode a dominating pitching performance by freshman Lucy George (12-1), who allowed two hits and struck out 16.

“Going in I knew it was going to be a pitcher’s duel,” George said. “I just had to be the better pitcher.

The Panthers’ Chole Linn led off the bottom of the second inning with a towering home run over the left field fence. Tri-West pitcher Audrey Lowry (21-5), a University of Oklahoma recruit, kept the deficit at one run, stranding Sienna Stone at third base.

“We knew it was going to be a tight game,” first-year Western coach Bart Miller said. “The Lowry girl is a heck of a pitcher. There’s a reason she’s going to Oklahoma.”

George struck out the first five batters she faced and seven of the first nine. Ily Hester led off the fourth with Tri-West’s first hit but was stranded at second when George struck out two more Bruins.

“Lucy hit her spots all night,” Miller said. “She had 16 strikeouts but her biggest number was one walk. This time of year you can’t put free baserunners on.”

Western had just three hits off Lowry, adding a single by Stone in the second inning and a two-out single by Brynley Erb in the sixth.

Tri-West’s other hit was a two-out single by Danica James in the seventh. But George ended the game by inducing a line drive out to centerfielder Kamryn Garber.

Miller, who has a lifetime affinity for Western High School, was proud his team ended the 30-year state finals drought triumphantly.

“I hope it means a lot,” Miller said of the Western community. “I believe it does. State titles aren’t easy; I don’t care what school you come from.

These girls, this team, this community, the support we had all season long was outstanding. It means the world to me and I know it means the world to a lot these fans and the girls.”

Class 3A State Championship Records

Most Home Runs (Tied): 1 by Chloe Linn, Western.

Tri-West’s Taylor Bennett receives Mental Attitude Award

At the conclusion of the game, Taylor Bennett of Tri-West Hendricks High School was announced as the recipient of the Mental Attitude Award for Class 3A 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.  

Taylor finished near the top of her class, was a member of the student council and the National Honor Society. She was the team Defensive Player of the year, second-team All-Conference, an NFCA Academic All-American, and was voted the player displaying the best mental attitude by her teammates.

Taylor has coached youth rec league softball teams in the community and has been involved with her church working at a local food bank.

Taylor is the daughter of Jim and Amy Bennett of Pittsboro, IN and will attend Manchester University to study Political Science with a minor in Psychology. She is the third consecutive Bruins player to win this award following Ava Sullivan last year and McKenna Hagemier in 2022. 

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance presented a $1,000 scholarship to Tri-West High School in the name of Taylor Bennett.