St. Thomas Aquinas softball coach Chris Orel stood there, soaking wet.
Just moments after the Saints’ 3-0 victory over Bishop Carroll in the Kansas 5A state championship softball game Saturday, Orel had been the recipient of an ice water bath.
“I was so emotionally drained at that point that I couldn’t even stand to run away from them,” Orel said, laughing. “So I decided to stand there and take it like a good sport.”
But you couldn’t blame her if she enjoyed the moment. This championship had been a long time coming for Orel, who is going on her sixth season as head coach.
The Saints had made the playoffs twice during Orel’s tenure and had come up short.
Saturday’s game was scoreless until the top of the seventh inning, when the Saints rallied, scored three runs and took the lead. Sophomore pitcher Kellie White finished the job for the Saints, shutting down the Golden Eagles in the seventh, completing a two-hit shutout.
The win improved the Saints’ record to 20-5 and gave Aquinas its first state title in the sport since 1997.
“You couldn’t ask for more,” Orel said. “I’m very proud.”