One step closer. Yet one step short. After falling to Clay City last year in the semifinal round of the North Daviess Class A Semi-State, second-ranked Hauser came back this year motivated to do better. And better they did. They defeated Trinity Lutheran in the first game, 4-1 to advance to the semi state championship, just one win away from the state title game. But then, they ran into top ranked Tecumseh, who ended the Jets’ season right there defeating Hauser 10-3. The Braves will play for the state championship next Saturday, and Hauser will reflect on an incredibly successful season that saw them go 24-5-1, but fall one game short.

“That is the best team we have played this year, hands down,” said Jets’ coach Andy Brunner following the game. “They are solid top to bottom. They are quick, play great defense, and their pitcher can spin the ball really well.”

After allowing two runs in the first inning, Hauser hurler Paige McDaniel shut the Braves down for the next two innings, allowing the Jets to cut the lead in half, 2-1 when Lucie Asher scored all the way from first on an errant throw that found right field by Tecumseh’s third basemen as she was trying to throw Izzy Brunner out at first.

Unfortunately for the Jets, Tecumseh’s bats awoke in the fourth inning. It appeared that McDaniel would continue her strong outing early in the inning, as she induced two groundouts to get two quick outs. From there, however, the Braves found their swing. The next five hitters reached base, via three singles, a double, and a triple, and after all was said and done, Tecumseh had scored four runs to open up a 6-1 lead, all with two outs in the inning. It was a déjà vu moment for Brunner, his team, and Hauser’s fans.

Last year against Clay City in the semi state, the Eels broke the game open by scoring nine runs with two outs to defeat the Jets.

“I went to the circle and brought the team together there. I told them that this happened last year against Clay City when they scored nine runs with two outs, and it wasn’t going to happen again. They scored two more runs after my visit, but we did get out of it,” Brunner stated.

Unfortunately for the Jets, six runs were plenty for Tecumseh pitcher Ashtyn Green. She kept the Hauser lineup off balance all game, specifically with her rise ball. She allowed very little solid contact, inducing Hauser into pop ups and fly balls, as they had trouble getting on top of the ball with their swings.

Tecumseh tacked onto its lead in the fifth and sixth innings, adding two more runs in each inning to lead 10-1 going into the final frame. Hauser did not go out without a fight. Haylin Campbell and McDaniel singled back to back in to start a Jets’ rally in the seventh. Following an Asher sacrifice, Brunner came through with a hit that scored both Hauser runners to make the score 10-3. The Braves were able to close the door from there to advance to the title game next Saturday in Lafayette.

And although the Jets fell short of the ultimate goal, they took one step closer this year. And with a roster featuring all underclassmen with everyone returning, the future is very bright for Hauser.

“We have a unique opportunity to come back again next year,” said Brunner. “We are going to come back bigger, better, and stronger. We will work on every aspect of our game in the offseason to continue to improve.”

Hauser’s semifinal game against Trinity Lutheran was a stark contrast to the game against Tecumseh. Although the Jets did not exactly tear the cover off of the ball, they did enough to get the 4-1 victory with some help from a generous Cougars’ defense. Three of Hauser’s runs were unearned, scoring on errors by Trinity Lutheran.

After back to back bloop doubles by Asher and Brunner to lead off the game, an error allowed Asher to score, giving Hauser an early 1-0 lead. That score held until the third inning. Asher led off with another hit. Brunner followed with a walk, and both scored, again on Cougar errors to give the Jets a 3-0 lead heading into the fourth inning.

Trinity Lutheran managed to get on the scoreboard in the fourth. Ally Russell was able to reach base after a questionable call at first in which it was determined that Brunner bobbled the catch, allowing Russell to be safe. Following a single by the Cougars’ Kamzi Gross and a walk to Madison Keith, Trinity centerfielder Olivia Cain hit a sacrifice fly allowing Russell to score, cutting Hauser’s lead to 3-1.

Hauser answered right back in the fifth. Back to back singles by Brunner and Hannah Taylor started the inning. Brunner then scored on a sacrifice fly by Raegan Johnson, allowing the Jets to reclaim their three-run cushion, 4-1, which was the final score.

Although the Jets did not exactly scold the ball, it did not matter for this game. Hauser ace McDaniel was absolutely dominant in the circle. She went the distance, throwing a complete game while striking out 11. She allowed one hit and walked one to get the victory and moving Hauser to the semi state championship game.

On the day, the Jets were led at the plate by Asher and Brunner. Each had four hits, including a double. Brunner also had three stolen bases. McDaniel contributed three hits as well.