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Back-to-back homers launch South to sectional title over North

NAPERVILLE – First came the bloop, then came the bombs.

Kristen Bialek blooped a single that landed between three defenders, then Melissa Orton and Jess Andree followed with back-to-back home runs as Downers Grove South’s softball team topped Downers Grove North, 3-2, Saturday to capture the title at the Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional.

It continued the miracle postseason run for the Mustangs (22-10). Seeded No. 9 in the sectional, they topped No. 8 Naperville North and No. 1 Naperville Central to win the regional, then took out No. 3 North to take home the sectional.

“We started a little slow in the season, but then we picked it up and once we won that first regional game we got a little momentum and I think we started to believe that we could do something because we beat such an outstanding team in Naperville Central,” Downers South coach Ron Havelka said.

That belief kept the Mustangs afloat even when they were down 1-0 to North (26-9) and standout pitcher Elaine Heflin. Hannah Mrazek launched a solo home run in the fifth to break a scoreless tie and put the Trojans ahead.

The lead didn’t last. Bialek’s bloop started a two-out rally that saw South tally three of its four hits in the game all in a row.

“When they scored their first run we were like, ‘All right, we have to come back with something,’” Andree said. “We weren’t looking for the big hits, but then it ended up being all of three hits that scored our three runs. It’s incredible.”

“A little bloop, the ball lands in the infield, and then boom,” North coach Mark Magro said. “Give credit to them. Two home runs in a row.”

North added a run in the bottom of the sixth, but had two runners thrown out at home early in the game and couldn’t muster the big hit when they needed it. The Trojans left nine runners on base and were retired in order in the bottom of the seventh.

It signaled the end of one of the Trojans’ best seasons in recent memory. They captured their fourth straight West Suburban Silver title and advanced to the sectional title game for the first time in Magro’s eight-year tenure.

“One more would have been nice,” the coach said. “We were looking forward to one more and being in the final eight, but what are you going to do?”

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