The last time Edwardsville and Belleville East met on a softball field, Tigers' junior Hayli Green hit a home run to blow open a tight game and put an end to a five-game Lancer winning streak.
Green played the spoiler again Tuesday in a 3-2 Edwardsville victory.
East arrived in Edwardsville having won 14 of 16 including nine in a row and looking to capture a share of the Southwestern Conference lead.
But Green belted the first pitch she saw from Lancer starter Angela Vanderpluym with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning to hold off the upset bid.
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"She hit one out down there and they pitched her a little different the first two times," said Edwardsville coach Lori Blade. "We mentioned to her that she has to make some adjustments and hit what they are giving her. She did. Hayli really got a hold of it."
Edwardsville (18-3) led 2-1 at the end of the third and looked poised to blow the game open in the fourth.
MacKenzie Marshall led off with a single, followed by a hit by Green which East center fielder Tawnee Kramer nearly caught with a diving attempt. A walk to Katelyn Bobrowski — Vanderpluym's only free pass of the game -- loaded the bases with two out.
Lead-off hitter Ari Arnold sent a line drive deep over the head of Lancer left fielder Becca Dahm, who made a catch with her back to home plate a step shy of the warning track.
"I could not even express my feelings when she caught that," Vanderpluym said. "She did an amazing job and probably saved two runs."
East carried the momentum into the top of the fifth and scored the tying run. Designated player Amanda Dermody reached first on a swinging bunt on the third base line, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Annie Eversman, then stole third base on a close play.
Dermody scored when an attempted pick off throw from Edwardsville catcher Taryn Brown squirted away from the third baseman.
"It was my bad call on the pick off at third -- I know better than that in a one-run game," Blade said. "I just have confidence in my defense to knock it down. That made it tighter that it could have been."
Vanderpluym pitched around a one-out Edwardsville hit in the fifth with help in centerfied from Brown and another good catch by Dahm in left.
But Green jumped on the first pitch she saw from Vanderpluym in the sixth to break the tie.
"She was throwing me inside and I went up kind of expecting that," Green said. "Those types of games put a fire under us. Winning these tight games really gets us excited going forward."
East put its lead off runner on base four times and put each of them into scoring position with four sacrifice bunts in four attempts. Two of them scored, one was tagged out at the plate in the first and the other was left stranded at third as the tying run in the top of the seventh.
"We got our leadoff runners on, and we got our bunts down to move them into scoring position, but just couldn't get that big RBI hit to give ourselves some breathing room or ever take the lead in this game," said Lancer head coach Natalie Peters.
Vanderpluym struck out three, walked one and allowed eight Edwardsville hits.
Edwardsville winning pitcher Kallen Loveless allowed four hits, while striking out three and walking one.
East had lost nine seniors from a 28-game winner in 2014 and started the season 1-6.
Playing to within a run of the defending Southwestern Conference champion and losing with the tying run on third shows just how far East has come since the start of the year, Peters said.
The Lancers are now 16-9 on the season, ranked second on the Belleville News-Democrat area large school poll, and have just two losses in conference play, both of them to No. 1 Edwardsville.
"People say we're young, but I think they really believe in each other and they've grown up a lot in our last 23 games," Peters said. "They'll grow even more as we continue on. We started off rough, but looking at all those teams now that beat us then makes us feel a little bit better. It tells us a lot about how far we've come."