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Stingers up! Rossville captures first IHSAA State Softball championship

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Fans in red shirts coated the third base bleachers of Bittinger Stadium from a small town 16 miles from West Lafayette attempting to cheer their girls to history.

Hands and faces pressed the protective netting and for the Rossville Hornets, their talented underclassmen ignited one final push against two-time defending state champion Tecumseh.

Sophomore second baseman Autumn Paschal ripped a go-ahead double into right center to cap a two-run, two out rally and Rossville beat Tecumseh 2-1 to capture the IHSAA Class 1A Softball State championship on Saturday night.

"We knew it was going to be a competitive game and we all had each other's backs," Paschal said. "It's a great experience to come out on top."

Rossville (27-3) captured its first IHSAA State Championship in program history and title overall. Its boys basketball program won Rossville its last state title in 2001.

Junior pitcher and Virginia Tech commit Avery Layton tossed a complete game with seven strikeouts and allowed just one hit on two walks and two wild pitches.

"I knew my offense would have my back and my defense would have my back," Layton said. "We were getting people on base but it finally came together. I'm just so proud of this team for sticking together."

Even on a night where Layton pitched with staggering accuracy and speed, it was the Hornet collective that would carry the program to its final resting stop on the path to history.

Shortstop Addi Gorbett hit a leadoff single to ignite Rossville's sixth inning rally and scored the tying run after a single up the middle by freshman Allie Elliott.

"I'm just really confident in myself," Elliott said. "Anyone before me or anyone after me can hit the ball. And if I don't hit the ball, I know my team has my back."

Rossville coach Chris Gorbett isn't a believer of individuals winning games, no matter how many talented players he has coached on his roster. And on Saturday night, it took every player on Rossville's 13-player roster.

"It all stems from our players, parents and admin all working in the same direction to be successful," Chris Gorbett said.

Rossville had faltered last season in the IHSAA Semistate semifinals and had never been to the state championship until Saturday.

Now the mission is accomplished. A celebration finally in order for the town of 1,503 and its softball program on State Road 26.

"It's really satisfying because we've worked our tails off," catcher Gracie McDonald said. "Our coach says all the time that softball is a long short season. We start in January and we are here until June. It takes all of our hard work and dedication and to do this for our program is an amazing thing."

Autumn Paschal can share bragging rights with her cousin Adie who won the 2A State championship for Cascade.

And like Adie, it was Autumn who delivered a critical base hit to lead her team to victory. Now they both can claim ring and state championship status.

"My cousin got the win yesterday and it gave me a lot of hope to come out here and compete with my team," Autumn Paschal said. "To have all my family here and experience it with them is incredible."

Congratulations to the Lady Hornets.

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