CG baseball team faces Penn in the Trojans’ first-ever state championship game


Sam Findley

Jacob Murphy pitches in the Brownsburg semi-state game.

Evan Neiswanger, Staff Writer

The Trojans (29-3) are set to play Penn (21-8) in the Indiana Class 4A State Championship game on Saturday at Victory Field. 

Center Grove is making their first state final appearance for baseball in school history. 

The Trojans feature a dynamic offense with players like Drew Culbertson batting .438 with an .585 on base percentage and eight home runs. Drew Culbertson, Evan Zapp, Noah Coy, Garrison Barile and Grant Sawa all have a .300 or higher batting average. 

Center Grove has also had major success on the field with a limited number of errors, only allowing five runs in the state tournament. The bullpen has been a major part of this, where Jacob Murphy is set to start against Penn Saturday night. Senior Caden Curry explains his and the bullpen’s hope for “J-murph.” 

“We, as a bullpen, hope J-Murph (Jacob Murphy) goes the whole game because he deserves it,” Cornett said. “But if he happens to not, we will be ready to do our role. If we do our job, we should be just fine.”

The Trojans chemistry is clear in the field. Whether it’s no-look passes to second base, chirping from the dugout, or unison chants when a Trojan is up to bat… it’s clear this team gets along. Senior pitcher Caden Cornett says it’s been a dream to compete with this group of guys. 

“Something I have cherished this year is being able to make this run with all my brothers and this year has been the most fun,” Cornett said. “It’s been a blast to do it with these guys. We hope we can get one more win.”

Being under the spotlight at Victory Field is a unique experience. Senior catcher Grant Sawa has a plan for when he steps onto the field. 

“First thing I’m going to do when I step on Victory Field is soak it all in,” Sawa said.  “Playing in this game is something we have all worked for and it is starting to come full circle.”

The Trojans have a chance to make history Saturday night against Penn, but getting there wasn’t a fluke. Noah Coy says it’s an accumulation of their hard work they’ve put in all season.

“State is just the final result of all our hard work this offseason and during the spring,” Coy said. “We always knew we could make it there, but we just had to continue to do our jobs, play our game, and the rest would take care of itself.”

The Penn Kingsmen are making a back-to-back appearance at Victory Field Saturday night. Last season, Penn shut out Cathedral to take the 4A state championship title. 

Penn is coming off two close regional wins, winning both by one run. 

To win back-to-back state championships is no easy feat, but it’s achievable with a healthy mindset, Penn senior Cooper Hums told WNDU Channel 16. 

“You can’t think about the first one,” Hums said. “It’s not going to be any easier to win a second. But, I think we’ve got a lot of grit on our team. All of us, we want it again. We can’t think that we did it once, we can do it again, but I think we all work really well together.”

It will be anything but a walk-through for both teams. For Center Grove, Grant Sawa recognizes this tournament as revenge from last season and a great way to end his high school career with his friends.

“State means a lot to this team. After being bounced in sectionals last year and the pressure that you have playing for Center Grove, it feels great to get to state,” Sawa said. “We have all played together since we were little, and now we play our last game together Saturday night. So just being able to play with them every day and competing together.”