When the skies cleared, the Vanguards came armed and ready with scorching aluminum bats.
Sun Valley busted out for 14 hits en route to an 11-2 rout of the District 3 runner-up Greencastle-Antrim.
The District 1 champions have to wait another day to find out who they'll meet in the quarterfinals. The game between Valley View and Milton was postponed due to inclement weather.
Junior pitcher Jamie Lachall and third-year coach Jerome Lewis earned their 50th career wins.
"It means a lot, but I do it for my team and not all for myself," said Lachall, who was masterful once again for the Vanguards. She struck out four and allowed only three hits.
After a shaky start, Lachall settled in. In the first inning the Blue Devils (18-7) scratched together a pair of hits, including Cassey Cordell's two-run single that gave them a 2-0 advantage. But Lachall had a good feeling her offense would get those runs back in a hurry.
In the bottom half the Vanguards (20-3) struck for three runs off G-A pitcher Amanda Wink, who struggled with her command from the outset.
Kait Dwyer's two-run single tied it and Lindsay Connolly's line drive to leftfield knocked in the go-ahead run.
Sun Valley never looked back.
"Everyone gets excited when we're all starting to hit," said Connolly, who finished 3-for-3 as the designated player. "When you go up to the plate, you want to hit really bad. I think hitting is contagious."
After Lachall retired the side in order in the second, the Vanguards put two runners on base for the heart of the order. Wink escaped disaster when the Vanguards' third and four-hole hitters - Alie Alkins and Amanda Lewis - both popped up harmlessly to shortstop Mackenzie Gayman.
But the Vanguards have been relentless at the plate all postseason, so they weren't about to let one missed opportunity cost them.
"(Lachall) had a rough first inning, but we came back and we hit like we know how," Lewis said. "That's how we hit the ball and that's how we run the bases. We're aggressive at the plate. When these girls - and they've been doing this a lot lately - start flowing, it's great. It used to be that we would rely one 1-though-5 to get the runs. Now it doesn't matter who's up."
Enter Taylor Stigale, the Vanguards' quiet assassin at the bottom of the order. The fleet-footed centerfielder laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt with the bases loaded in the third inning to give her team a 4-2 advantage. In that inning, the Vanguards sent 11 players to the plate, racked up seven hits and scored six runs. It was Stigale's textbook bunt that pushed the assembly line in motion.
"It felt good to help the team," said Stigale, who also made a few nice putouts in the outfield. "I was hoping for the best, trying to represent the bottom of the lineup."
Alkins rectified her previous at bat by slamming a bases-clearing, three-run double to the gap in left-centerfield to give the Vanguards an 8-2 lead. Amanda Lewis then followed up with a single-scoring single. Karly Lewis added three hits on the afternoon, as every Sun Valley hitter reached base at least once.
G-A coach Jamie Richardson believes his team was at a decided disadvantage from the start.
"Some of the breath was taken out of us when we had to drive here, go through two delays, warm up twice - that's kind of annoying," he said. "It messes up your routine. We jumped out early and we were hoping that would do it, but it just didn't work out. We didn't put the ball in play enough and we didn't make enough plays."
Sun Valley, on the other hand, did all of that.
"We're playing our game," Stigale said.
Sun Valley 11, Greencastle-Antrim 2
Greencastle-Antrim Sun Valley
ab r h bi ab r h bi
C.Scarpato cf 2 0 0 0 KLewis 1b 4 2 3 1
Crunkleton rf 3 1 2 0 Maloney 2b 3 1 0 0
Kline 1b 3 0 0 0 Alkins ss 3 2 1 3
Wink p 3 1 0 0 ALewis 3b 4 1 3 1
German c 3 0 0 0 Dwyer c 4 0 1 2
Cordell 3b 3 0 1 2 Luedtke lf 4 1 1 0
Briggs 2b 3 0 0 0 Connolly dp 3 2 3 1
Ensinger dp 2 0 0 0 Gindle rf 3 1 1 1
Gayman ss 2 0 0 0 Stigale cf 2 1 1 1
Fasbinder ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 22 2 3 2 Totals 31 7 14 5
Greencastle 200 010 0 - 2 3 1
Sun Valley 306 101 x - 11 14 1
2B: Alkins. SB: A. Lewis, Dwyer. LOB: G-A 2, Sun Valley 10. E: Kline, Alkins.
ip h er r bb k
Wink, L 6 14 10 11 4 4
Sun Valley Pitching
Lachall, W 7 3 2 2 1 4
WP: Wink 3. HBP: Ward (by Lachall, first inning); K.Lewis (by Wink), Maloney (by Wink). T: 1:38.