Before you see Teurlings Catholic’s softball team play in the Class 4A state tournament, it’s a good bet you will hear them coming first.
Senior right fielder Kenzie Dupont said it’s customary after the team checks in at Frasch Park in full uniform, including their metal cleats, they proceed in two single-file lines toward their field.
They’re not allowed to talk or look around at their surroundings, instead focus straight ahead on the task at hand, the building noise from their cleats announcing their arrival.
“We look uniform and disciplined, like we’re ready to play,” Dupont said. “My freshman year when we passed, there was a dad that looked at us and said how impressive it was. I think it’s the coolest thing.”
That’s just part of the tradition associated with the state tournament Teurlings team kept alive during a bumpy regular season, featuring its share of ebb and flow.
Once the No. 26 Rebels (13-16) reached the postseason, though, they’ve caught fire with a pair of road upsets heading into Friday’s Class 4A state quarterfinal against West Ouachita (20-13) at 4 p.m.
“When we weren’t playing well, we got down,” said Teurlings senior Sydney Manuel, who is batting .400 with two homers, 29 runs scored and 28 RBIs. “But when the playoffs came around we realized, we had to step it up each game and we ended up here.”
Teurlings is the lowest seeded team remaining at the state tournament, regardless of classification.
The Rebels are only the second team seeded No. 26 to reach the state tournament in the past five years but would become the first to win a Class 4A state title.
“I’d rather play as an underdog and work to prove yourself the whole time,” Manuel said. “We didn’t make it to state my sophomore year, and we a high (No. 2) seed. That was a shock to everybody. It feels good to be 26th and making it to state.”
Teurlings graduated several key veterans from last year’s state semifinalist team, which lost 6-1 to West Ouachita, and had to learn what life would be without all-state pitcher Summer Ellyson.
The Rebels have never had a .500 record at any point this year, starting 0-5 against the likes of Sam Houston, St. Amant and Brusly.
Teurlings flashed glimpses of potential, knocking off arch-rival St. Thomas More 3-2 in the first round of District 4-4A play but never enjoyed a winning streak of more than three games.
They could equal that with a win over West Ouachita.
“There’s been some games where we didn’t do our best, but other games where I could see the potential,” said Dupont, a .299 hitter with 18 runs scored and 12 RBIs.
The playoffs have represented a rebirth of sorts with Teurlings upsetting No. 7 Tioga and No. 10 Academy of Our Lady by 8-6 scores.
The Rebels showed plenty of resolve in the win over Tioga, which was suspended by rain with the score tied at 2. Mackenzie David hit a grand slam, and Manuel doubled in two runs a day later.
Teurlings built an 8-2 lead in its regional game with AOL, jumping out to an 8-2 lead on the strength of two-run hits from Manuel, Maci Rozas and Cailey Goulas, while sophomore pitcher Lorin Martin staved off a late rally to send the Rebels back to the state tournament.
“It’s been like a roller coaster and because of that it’s more rewarding,” Dupont said. “Look how far we’ve made it, and hopefully we can make it even farther.”