A bouncing ball up the middle here.
A sizzler off an infielder’s glove there.
Throw in a handful of well-placed basehits.
Next thing it knew, Neuqua Valley had itself a 5-run seventh inning.
The Wildcats strung together seven straight singles — all coming after two were out — to break a tie with No. 9 Waubonsie Valley and went on to a come-from-behind 9-5 win Tuesday in Aurora.
Neuqua coach Melissa Wilson said she’s been waiting for this kind of rally all season.
But then, what coach isn’t?
“I’m so proud of my team. I think with two outs we went around the order which is fantastic,” said Wilson, whose team scored all nine of its runs after an inning’s first two batters were retired. “We needed a game like that.”
Neuqua (11-8, 7-3 Upstate Eight Valley) trailed 4-0 after three innings but rallied with 2 runs in the sixth to tie it 4-4 going into the seventh.
The inning started innocently enough with two outs, before Jamie O’Brien singled and took second on an over-run ball in the outfield. Next up, Rebecca Lincoln chopped a single through the middle, and O’Brien eluded the tag at home plate for the go-ahead run.
Kelsey Dominguez singled, and Colleen Hill rocketed a shot off the third baseman’s glove to make it 6-4. Alyssa Domico, Sydney Foran and Carly Cervantez all followed with singles.
“Our team can hit,” said Hill, Neuqua’s junior cleanup hitter, “and today the whole lineup hit.”
Earlier Hill, 3-for-4 in the game, homered with two outs in the fourth inning to break up Shannon Hohman’s no-hitter, pulling Neuqua within 4-2. The opposite-field shot seemed to have unexpected carry to right field.
“Colleen’s been doing a great job for us,” Wilson said. “When she makes contact, the ball just flies.”
Waubonsie (14-5, 8-3) lost its second game in as many days on its opponent’s last at-bat. On Monday South Elgin scored 3 runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 6-5 win.
Just like that game, two critical Warriors errors in the outfield contributed to their undoing.
“Again that’s something we’ve been challenged with, is finishing a complete game,” said Waubonsie coach Aly Kelley, whose team also lost a late lead against DeKalb nine days ago. “It’s mentally staying in it. We score a bunch of runs in the beginning, we relax, and it comes back to bite us.”
Waubonsie jumped out early, scoring a run in the first and three in the second. Hohman’s two-out single started the scoring, and Layne Thresh doubled in a pair of runs before Amanda Minahan’s RBI single. Hohman, who reached base four times with 3 hits, retired the first 11 batters she faced before a two-out walk in the fourth, striking out six.
Mac Spittal (5-1) pitched well in relief for Neuqua, throwing 3 scoreless innings with 5 strikeouts.
With Neuqua’s win and South Elgin’s loss to Lake Park, South Elgin and Bartlett sit in first place, with Waubonsie, Neuqua and Lake Park all a game back in the loss column. Neuqua bounced back well from a 3-2 loss to Bartlett on Monday.
“We have South Elgin (Wednesday), we also have them on Friday,” Wilson said, “so this is a great win going into some big conference games.”
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