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Raising the bar

It was sure fun while it lasted.

The St. Bede Lady Bruins played their way to the IHSA 2A State Softball tournament, marking their spot in Academy history as the first female sports team to reach state in any sport.

They are just the second team in school history to reach state, the first since the 1988 baseball team won the state championship.

Simply put, St. Bede head coach Bill Prokup said it was a nice run.

“As a coach, one of my goals was to create a memory for this group of young ladies. I think we achieved that,” he said. “I think we showed we could compete against the very best in the state. The girls should take great pride in their effort, especially in the seventh inning of both games. They showed a lot of heart.

“They made history at St. Bede as the first girls team to reach the state finals. That is something no one can take away from them.”

Senior captain Lydia Stariha couldn’t think of a better way to go out.

“Well, it was a really exciting,” she said. “I mean it is a goal all season to make it down there. I’m really proud of my team especially to do something that has never been done at the Academy.”

The Lady Bruins won their own regional championship, rolling over Somonauk (7-1) and Mendota (9-2).

At sectional, the Lady Bruins rocked Alleman 6-0 and outlasted Stillman Valley 1-0 in 10 innings for the championship.

The super-sectional came much easier, dusting Aurora Central Catholic 6-1 to punch their ticket to state.

In East Peoria, the Lady Bruins went down battling in the state semifinal against Tremont, scoring two runs in the seventh to close within 6-3 with slugger Mo Dean at the plate representing the tying run.

They fell to defending state champ Nashville 1-0 in the third-place contest, finishing with a 24-7 record.

Prokup said the Lady Bruins have raised the bar for years to come at the Academy.

“Future teams will always compare themselves to the 2013 Lady Bruins. I hope we can build on this and keep the pipeline strong to compete at the highest level every year,” he said.

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