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Let’s hear it for (all) the girls

Danica Patrick’s ride through the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday was pretty incredible.
She started near the front, stayed there for most of the race, stalled her car after a pit stop, faded a bit, went through a spin cycle on a restart, led late, and finally crossed the line in fourth place after being passed by eventual winner Dan Wheldon with seven laps left.
The media hounded the 22-year-old rookie’s every move all month long, and when it counted, she delivered.
Patrick’s fourth-place finish was the highest ever by a female. She also led quite a few laps (the first time for a female).
And she came ridiculously close to winning the dang thing.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators (most were conscious; some were not) ooh’ed and ahh’ed with Patrick’s every step towards the front.
When she was within a Firestone’s roll of a swig of milk, even I gave a, ‘You go, girl.’
So, there’s next year, which will undoubtedly begin with, ‘She’s baaaaa-ck’ or ‘The girl is back in town.’
Gear heads and grease monkeys everywhere will get a chance to go ga-ga again with more photos of Danica (which is a good thing).
‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ will no longer be the 500 itself, but simply Danica walking from Gasoline Alley to the pit area or Danica tying her shoe or Danica belching or Danica (fill in the blank).
Forget the 32 other folks scooting their backsides 230+ miles an hour just inches above the ground: it’ll be Dani-Time next May.
Time will tell if she’s really that great of a driver, or if the finish was just a fluke.
Either way, she’s made a lasting mark on the Speedway and added to the mystique of the Indy 500.
— Congrats go out to the softball teams from both North Harrison and Lanesville for winning their respective sectionals last week.
While the Lady Eagles were nothing short of favorites, most pundits believed North Harrison had lost entirely too much from last year’s sectional championship squad to compete for a title this season.
As the year wore on, solid pitching performances were turned in, hitters hit, coaches coached and the Lady Cats became contenders. Then became co-favorites with Corydon Central and Salem.
Salem ousted the Lady Panthers in the opener and then North blanked Salem in the final.
The Lady Cats, who check in at 12-14 on the year, will face a tough test in the regional Saturday at Boonville.
They face off against a strong Heritage Hills team that’s ranked ninth in the final Class 3A coaches’ poll and sports a record of 21-3.
As for Lanesville, they’ll host their regional on Saturday and play in the second game against Springs Valley.
The Lady Blackhawks aren’t ranked, and while their school web site has tons of info on Larry Bird and their 1958 state finalist basketball team, there’s not a word about the softballers.
My best guess is that with a pitcher who gives up just over a tenth of a run a game (.11), and nary a ranked bunch in the field, No. 3-ranked Lanesville should be considered front-runners for the regional crown.
— Having watched countless softball games over the years, I saw something for the first time in the sectional final last week: Lanesville’s starting shortstop, Brittany Mix, fouled off the very first pitch from New Washington’s Brittany McKee. Rather than sailing to the backstop, however, the day-glow yellow sphere made a bee-line for Mix’s nose.
The gritty senior dropped her bat after the contact and did some sort of wave in front of her face with both hands, but never shed a single tear ‘ nor a drop of blood ‘ that I could see.
After getting a looking over by her coach, she retreated to the dugout and returned to the field a couple of minutes later with cotton jammed up both nostrils to finish her at-bat.
She struck out, but came back to finish the game with a game-tying triple and two runs scored.
Had it been me getting smacked on the schnoz, I’d have been on the ground, in a fetal position, crying like a baby.
Then it dawned on me. Her mettle and toughness shouldn’t have been in question at all during the ordeal. Mix proved to everyone in attendance that she is ‘ as I already knew ‘ hard-nosed.