Edwardsville ace Kallen Loveless had to feel fortunate Saturday as the Normal Community Iron hit line drive after line drive with nothing to show early in the title game Class 4A O'Fallon Sectional.
Normal pitcher Alison Domkuski wasn't as fortunate.
Junior Torrie Kruse highlighted a four-run third inning with a two-run double and Edwardsville never looked back as it went on to post a 12-0 win at O'Fallon City Park.
Looking for revenge after dropping a 13-3 decision to Edwardsville earlier in the season, Normal threatened in the first inning only to have two line drives caught by Edwardsville Hayli Green in left field and Kruse at first base, where she speared a line shot off the bat of Domkuski with a runner in scoring position.
"They hit some shots and my defense played just phenomenally behind me,'' Loveless said. "I'm really thankful for them because they made some great plays, a couple of times with runners on base.''
Edwardsville then used a pair of Normal errors and an obstruction call in the top of the second inning to take a 1-0 lead and took off from there as it romped into a berth in the Elite Eight.
The win moves Edwardsville (36-3) into the Normal Super-Sectional on Monday at Illinois State University, where it will take on (Frankfort) Lincoln-Way East at 6:30 p.m.
Lincoln-Way East defeated Joliet West 12-2 on Saturday to win the (Tinley Park) Andrew Sectional.
Along with shutting down a good hitting Iron team with her pitching, Loveless also collected three of the Tigers' 11 hits and put the finishing touch on the victory with a solo homer in the sixth inning.
The game was stopped after six innings by the 10-run rule.
"She (Domkuski) is good. We hit her hard the last time and they've got a good program, but we had some hits fall in today and I'd rather be lucky than good in the postseason and right now we're a little bit of both,'' Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. "Kallen did a great job. To shut them out was huge and the defense was just tremendous.
"Torrie (Kruse) did a great job at first today. They hit a couple of bullets that she made great plays on. This is all on the kids. I pull a couple of strings here and there, but it's all them. They deserve the credit and I'm very proud of them.''
After escaping the bottom of the first, Loveless led off the top of the second with a single. Courtesy runner Sara Radae advanced to second on a passed ball and then took third on a sacrifice bunt by Kruse.
With a 2-1 count on Green, Normal catcher Lexi Beach attempted to pick off Radae at third, but the throw sailed into left.
After untangling herself from Normal third baseman Renee Ariola, Radae raced for home, but was called out by 10 feet.
However Ariola was called for obstruction, meaning Radae scored and the Tigers were off and running.
The two errors were just the beginning of a tough defensive day for Normal, which made five errors.
"I was afraid we were due for a day like this, because in our last four games we hadn't made a single error,'' Normal coach Bob Grimes said. "We were ready to play. We hit shots the first couple of innings. Credit to Edwardsville, because they made the plays and got the momentum.
"In the postseason you've got to bring your 'A' game every time out. We didn't do that.''
Edwardsville scored four runs in the third inning after the first two hitters were retired.
Jordan Corby singled and Rachel Anderson walked to put runners on first and second.
Loveless made it 2-0 with a single up the middle and Kruse followed with her two-run double down the right-field line.
Green then singled in Kruse, making it 5-0.
A bases-loaded single by Anderson and a walk to Kruse increased the Edwardsville lead to 7-0 in the fourth.
Loveless did the rest.
"It feels really good to win a sectional. It's been a while since we won one. Not since I've been here anyway,'' Loveless said. "I'm happy for the seniors. We've only got a couple, but it's nice to be able to win one for them.''