See you at State: Southridge gets spectacular send-off


HUNTINGBURG, Ind. (WEHT) — Southridge baseball has a second swing at the school’s first state championship, Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

The Raiders came up one run short of a state title last year. Now the team, and their fans, are ready for redemption.

“Pretty excited, pretty nervous,” said Kelly Gehlhausen. She will be in the stands at Victory Field, cheering on the hometown team.

Anguish and uncertainty run deep in Huntingburg because Raiders baseball has its biggest test yet.

Southridge left on a bus from League Stadium in Huntingburg with their eyes on one prize. Head coach Gene Mattingly said he will use the drive to think about game situations.

“One pitch at a time,” he said. “I haven’t stopped thinking about it.”

The Raiders 82 year-old bus driver, Don Astrike knows exactly what to say.

“Good luck buddy,” he told the team as they boarded the bus. 

Southridge plays Alexandria Monroe at 7:30 p.m. central.

“I think they’re going to pull out with a good win this year,” Gehlhausen said with a smile.

Paige Kendall has real hope their next step is state champs. “I think we’re going to bring home some rings today.”

Don’t expect Mattingly to sweat the small stuff. He is telling his guys to stay hungry.

“It won’t be a fear and it won’t be overwhelming,” Mattingly said. “I think we’re able to enjoy it a little more. I think we understand the expectations; we understand kind of the ritual that is a state finals game.”

Behind a police and fire escort, Astrike rolls his white bus forward with red on board.

“Good bunch of guys, just love ‘em.”

The dream of a lifetime is on deck and their date with destiny is due.

Pointing to last year’s runner-up ring, Astrike smiled.

“I’m gonna get the real thing this year!”

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(This story was originally published on June 18, 2019)

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