SHADYSIDE - Shadyside entered Division IV girls' sectional softball action riding a two-game losing streak that saw the Tigers blanked in both outings.
However, it's been said that tournament time is a second season. If that's true, the Tigers are undefeated following a 7-4 victory against Toronto Wednesday afternoon.
With that, Shadyside (16-6) advances to the co-sectional final against River on Friday, also in Shadyside, at 5 p.m. That winner advances to district action in New Philadelphia.
"We hadn't been swinging the bat real well coming in," Shadyside coach Jillian Ongley said. "But we our bats came alive. Thanks heavens."
The Tigers doubled their way to the victory as they banged out nine hits, with half-dozen of them being two-baggers.
"We hit the ball really well in the first half of the season, but for some reason we went into a slump as a team as the season wound down," Ongley noted. "(Wednesday) we hit like we know we can."
The Red Knights (14-10) struck first with a run in the top of the second, but the Tigers countered with a three-spot in the bottom of the inning when Kenzie Fielding doubled home Hayley Holenka, who had also doubled, and Angelina McKeever's single knocked in Tierney Duncan. Fielding crossed the plate with the third run.
Toronto added two more runs in the third without the benefit of a base hit to deadlock the contest at 3-3.
Shadyside made it 4-3 in its third at-bat as Shelby Benedetta dropped down a bunt that was thrown wildly down the right-field line as Benedetta scampered to third. She hustled home on Holenka's one-out grounder.
The Red Knights once again took the lead without a hit in the fourth. Brittany Anderson reached on a one-out error and scored on a wild pitch.
That was all the damage the Red Knights would do on the afternoon as Shadyside freshman Megan Heagney settled down. She retired 10 of the last 12 batters she faced.
"Megan did struggle early on, but the girls really picked her up," Ongley noted. "That's something that we've been doing all season, and it was important."
Heagney allowed just three hits but only one after the second inning. She struck out 13 and walked four but was victimized by a handful of dropped third strikes.
While Heagney was stifling the Red Knights' bats, her teammates scored once in the fifth to take the lead for good and then added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth.
Karli Bonar doubled to lead off the fifth. Benedetta bunted back to the mound and was thrown out at first, but as Bonar advanced to third. The throw got away and she raced home with what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Sarah Dierkes and Bonar had run-scoring hits in the sixth.
"We'll need to play a little better against River," Ongley said of Friday's game.
Bonar and Holenka each doubled twice, while McKeever had a single and double.
Cari Horne clubbed a first-inning double for Toronto. She also fanned three and walked two in taking the loss.