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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 11:10 pm

Homestead beats Leo for Class 4A Regional title

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

A balanced offensive and defensive effort by Homestead and uncharacteristic errors from Leo lifted the host Spartans to their second ever Class 4A Regional title, 11-7, Tuesday over the defending champion Lions.

The regional championship avenged last year's regional title game loss and a 3-0 loss earlier this seasonvto the Lions.

"That first game (earlier this season), we had a lot of good hits, but they made plays so we weren't able to get any runs," Homestead pitcher Madisen Parker said. "Coming into this game, we knew we were going to be able to hit the ball but we needed to make sure we took advantage of our opportunities and I thought we did that (Tuesday)."

The game ended with a flourish with an unassisted double play from Homestead shortstop Katie Felger. With one out in the seventh, Felger caught a line drive from Haley Hines and forced Aaliyah Andrews out at second.

Homestead won its first regional crown in 2015.

"It's euphoria," Spartans catcher Katie Lael said of the win. "It's the best feeling in the entire world. That's the best way I can describe it and we're just not done, yet. We'll celebrate (Tuesday night) but we'll be back at it (today)."

Homestead capitalized on six Leo errors, four in the first two innings, as the Spartans led 6-1 after two.

"We had so much confidence (after the early lead)," Homestead centerfielder Lauren Selking said. "We didn't have to worry about making mistakes nearly as much as we would if it was 0-0, that puts a lot of pressure on our pitching and our infield and outfield. The scoring advantage from the get-go, that gave us a lot of confidence and we played with a lot of swagger that kept our team going."

In the first, Leo scored when Abbie Heischman hit a sacrifice bunt to bring in Alexa Allen to make it 1-0 but Homestead responded big in the bottom of the inning.

Selking singled to right, bringing in Makenna Hostetler and Parker. Selking advanced to third on a Savana Harless single and scored on a throwing error.

Harless then scored when Katie Lael hit a pop up to the catcher to make it 4-1.

"How often do you see that in a high school game?" Homestead coach Tom Clagg said of the run. "We work on it in practice. She's the best base runner that I know of in this area. She will take advantage of everything. She does it on her own. She takes advantage of everything when she's on the bases and she's fast."

In the sixth, the Spartans got runs from Hostetler, Parker, Selking, Harless and Nicole Gerber to make a Leo comeback an even taller task.

But the Lions weren't going away.

Morgan Finton scored on a double from Allen and Makayla Hissong and Allen scored on a line drive single to right field from Amanda Hopkins to make it 11-6 with no outs.

With Hines batting and one out, Madison Dunning stole home while Andrews advancing to second.

"We played seven innings," Clagg said. "We learned that the hard way this year, you have to play seven innings. We've lost a few in the last inning. We brought our A-game today. Whatever they got, they earned. I'm not sure if we made an error, I don't think so. We were pretty solid on defense today."

The Spartans face Hamilton Southeastern in the 4A Semistate at Harrison in West Lafayette at 1 p.m. Saturday. The winner will advance to face Penn or Crown Point in the semistate final.

areichel@jg.net