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updated: 5/1/2014 10:29 PM

Koulous homer lifts Waubonsie Valley

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By Stan Goff
Daily Herald Correspondent

Off the bat, Waubonsie Valley's Mel Koulos knew she hit the ball well to the gap in right center and was hoping that both the game-tying and game-winning runs would come around on the play in the bottom of the seventh.

But Koulos actually hit the ball even better, and her shot to the gap carried over the fence for a game-winning 3-run home run as the Warriors rallied past Naperville North 5-3 on Thursday for their 11th win in a row.

"I was thinking right side because I wanted to get them in," said Koulos, who stepped to the plate after Layne Thresh and Jordan Kurth had opened the inning with singles. "That's what I thought, that it was a gapper. I was like, they better go. They better go. I thought it wasn't going and I was like 'Oh my god.' "

But as it turned out, Koulos, who will be a preferred walk-on next year at NIU, hit the ball well enough for her fourth home run of the spring and her first walk-off homer.

"Then it went over and I was like, did that just happen? It was first pitch and it went by so fast. It was pretty intense," she said.

The final-inning heroics made a winner of Warriors pitcher Shannon Hohman, who was not at her best and was in trouble much of the game but still held the hot-hitting Huskies to just 3 runs, all of which came in the top of the third.

Naperville North (11-6) had seven hits and also seven walks as Hohman was uncharacteristically wild on Thursday. But the Huskies stranded 12 runners in the game and also had some baserunning miscues that didn't help the offense.

"We just didn't get the big hits and like I said we had some baserunning errors," Naperville North coach Jerry Kedziora said. "We hit a good pitcher today. I'm proud of our girls the way they battled."

Huskies leadoff hitter Kaillee Budicin stayed hot with 2 hits and a walk, and shortstop Alexia Solak had 3 hits, including a deep double to center that started the 3-run rally off Hohman in the third.

The Warriors (18-5) cut that 3-0 deficit to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth when Amanda Lack and Hohman singled and came around on Meghan Grannan's 2-run double.

It stayed 3-2 until Koulos' walk-off blast.

"My heart's still racing," Warriors coach Val Wood said after the thrilling conclusion. "Those three girls came up big for me. That's why they're sitting 1-2-3."

After Thresh's leadoff single, Kurth tried unsuccessfully on two pitches to bunt her over, then lined a single of her own with two strikes. With a 1-run deficit some might consider having Koulus bunt both runners into scoring position with no outs, but that was not the plan on this day.

"I was really up in the box right on the pitch and as soon as I saw it I jumped on it," Koulos said of her opposite-field game-winning shot. "This was a nonconference game and yet it so intense. Oh my gosh."

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