After scoring a run on three hits in the first inning Saturday afternoon, Hamilton's softball team managed just three hits and no runs the next four frames. And the Lady Huskies saw their 1-0 lead go by the wayside as Xavier battled back for a 3-1 lead during that span.
Then two big hits in the sixth — the last the biggest available in softball — were unleashed.
Gabriela Trejo ripped a two-run double to tie the game and two batters later leadoff hitter Bella Loomis hammered a grand slam to right center that broke a 3-3 deadlock and lifted Hamilton to a 7-3 victory over Xavier in a Division I tournament elimination game at Rose Mofford Softball Complex.
Hamilton (25-10) gets to play again come Tuesday May 13 at 6:30 p.m. against an opponent to be determined. Xavier saw its season end at 20-9-1.
Xavier sophomore Karlee Johnson shook off a rough first inning and was seemingly in control heading to the bottom of the sixth. A one-out double by Nicole Spykstra got the winning rally started. Perhaps the key batter in the inning was the next hitter, Jamie Hatch, who struck out. Hatch swung at a pitch in the dirt and was able to reach first before the ball was recovered.
So the rally continued with one out and a walk followed to load the bases. Trejo, who pinch-hit in the fourth and popped out, re-entered and this time launched a double to right to tie the game. Xavier coach Bobby Pena removed Johnson and brought on freshman Lilly Giller.
Giller walked Shannon Rackowski to load the bases again. Loomis was next up and ran the count to 3-2. The 3-2 pitch was smoked with just enough on it to clear the outfield fence and send Hamilton players into a frenzy.
Hamilton sophomore pitcher Cheyenne Noli, who was hit hard in the middle innings giving up nine of 10 hits she allowed, retired the final eight batters she faced. Noli didn't walk a batter and struck out one.
Xavier was led offensively by Annamarie Hartman with three hits and an RBI. Megan Donahey and Johnson had two hits each for the Gators. Kim Slaughter led Hamilton with three hits, including an RBI single in the first to score Loomis who led off with a triple.
In the other D-I elimination game, Red Mountain scored 11 times with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to beat Millennium, 11-1. The victory keeps Red Mountain's hopes alive for fifth straight title.