For the first two and a half games of the tournament, the Trojans? pitching and defense held the opposition scoreless?152?3 innings to be exact.
With Hillsboro leading 1-0 with two outs in the third inning of the championship game, Chase County?s Cassidy Kelsheimer belted a three-run home run over the left-field fence, helping the Bulldogs to a 5-1 victory.
Hillsboro took a 1-0 lead against the unbeaten No. 1 seed in the opening at-bat. Allison Weber and Danae Bina led off with walks against Bulldog starter Tori Burkhart. After a fly out by Madison Klein, Bradli Nowak ripped a single to left that enabled Weber to score.
After Kelsheimer?s blast, the Trojans had opportunities to score against Burk?hart but couldn?t deliver the timely hit against the Bull?dog defense.
In the fourth inning, Hillsboro had the bases loaded with two outs, but Burkhart got Weber to ground out to end the threat.
In the fifth, Bina hit a smash into the right-center gap, but the senior speedster was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. While the play wasn?t an imminent scoring threat, it had a psychological impact on both teams.
In the top of the seventh, Bina led off with a double and Klein walked. Nowak then hit a sharp ground ball right at the Chase County third baseman, who stepped on third for one out, then threw to first base to complete the double play. The season ended when the next batter popped out.
?I was happy with the offense (during the tournament), just not enough in the last game,? coach Stephanie Sinclair said.
She said the Trojans? low run production was a combination of Burkhart?s pitching and the Trojans? level of patience at the plate.
?She was just a little wild at times and that may have thrown us off,? Sinclair said. ?It seems my girls don?t like walking as much, so we may have been a little down with the walks mixed in. We really respond to each other hitting.?
Weber (10-3), who started the game, threw the first three innings. Julie Sinclair came on in the fourth inning and gave up two runs the rest of the way, but only one run was earned.
The hard-hitting Bulldogs had outscored their first two state opponents 27-1. The Trojans? dynamic duo limited them to five runs and seven hits.
?Our defense and pitching were outstanding,? Coach Sinclair said. ?We also felt a lot of confidence in the first games of state?we knew they had not played anyone quite like us.
?Julie really came along with pitching this season,? she added. ?Her confidence really was seen the second half of the season. I commend the catchers for working so hard with both pitchers and understanding their strengths.?
Hillsboro ended its season with a 23-3 record, but Sin?clair said good memories will far outweigh the disappointment of coming so close to a second state title.
?Playing better defense overall stood out,? Sinclair said about the year. ?I was more worried about that as a coach than anything else. Danae gave us great leadership. She has a powerful presence. That will be missed.?
Bina, the Trojans? only senior, set a state career record for runs scored. She crossed the plate 153 times during her four seasons?including a career-best 46 times in 2014.
The previous record was 130 runs by Kathy Mohler of Silver Lake, set in 1993-96.
Hillsboro 3, Ell-Saline 0
Semifinals, Friday morning
The Trojans ended the dream of one of the two unbeaten teams they faced at the tournament, taking a 3-0 victory against previously undefeated No. 2 seed Ell-Saline in the semifinals Friday morning.
The scoreless pitching duel between starters Julie Sinclair for Hillsboro and Ell-Saline?s Danielle Sprinkle ended in the top of the third when the Trojans pushed two runs across the plate.
With one out, Kennedy Lucero walked and Allison Weber singled to left. After Danae Bina flied out, Madison Klein stroked a double to left that brought both base runners home.
Hillsboro scored a third run in the fifth. Savannah Unruh led off with a walk and Lucero moved her into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Weber then slapped a hard ground ball over first base and into right field for a single that pushed Unruh to third.
When Bina hit a ground ball toward third base, the fielder threw home in an attempt to catch Unruh trying to score. The throw was there in time, but Unruh was safe when the catcher dropped the ball.
Weber came in and pitched the final three innings to preserve the victory for Sinclair (13-0). Ell-Saline went on to take third place in the tournament and ended its season with a 25-1 record.
?Ell Saline had some very good players,? coach Steph?anie Sinclair said. ?We knew that Sprinkle was a very good player, but maybe not a pitcher quite as tough as we had seen in league. We were actually looking forward to hitting against her.
?(Sesely) Omli, the catcher, is also outstanding and we kept her off the bases. That was a big reason for our success.?
Hillsboro 10, McLouth 0
First round, Thursday evening
Hillsboro looked impressive in its Class 2-1A state tournament debut. The third-seeded Trojans dispatched of sixth-seeded McLouth 10-0 in a game that ended by run rule with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Trojan left-hander Julie Sinclair set the tone, striking out the first two hitters on the way to 13 whiffs through six innings of work.
Hillsboro got on the board in the bottom of the inning when Allison Weber led off with a walk and advanced to second when Madison Klein walked. After a fly out by Bradli Nowak moved the runners to second and third, Emily Jost?s single brought both runners home for a 2-0 lead.
After Sinclair struck out the side in the second, Hills?boro scored two more runs in the home half when Weber?s bloop single chased home Sinclair, who had singled, and Shannon Heiser, who had walked.
The score remained 4-0 until the bottom of the fourth. Savannah Unruh led off with a single, followed by a single by Kennedy Lucero. After a sacrifice bunt by Weber moved them into scoring position, Unruh scored on a sacrifice fly by Danae Bina and Lucero scored on Klein?s double.
Hillsboro added four runs in the bottom of the sixth?three on a home run over the left-field fence by Klein?for a 9-0 led. The game-ending run came after Nowak doubled, Jost was hit by a pitch and Sinclair was safe on an infield single to load the bases. After Heiser popped out to the catcher, Unruh was hit by a pitch, forcing in the 10th run for the run-rule victory.
McLouth?s season ended with a 17-5 record.