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The Mustangs were not going to lose on Wednesday. They weren't going to let their biggest rival — Spring Grove — spoil senior night for the six South Western seniors in the lineup.

The Mustangs (10-6 overall, 7-5 YAIAA Division I) erased four-run and two-run deficits, escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in extra innings, and won, 7-6, on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth by senior Katelin Willingham.

"Oh, it was a lot of fun," South Western manager Megan Pilarcik said. "We joked in that last inning that we were enjoying senior night a little too much, so I said 'OK, we can end this one now.'"

And it was fitting, Pilarcik said, that a senior was responsible for ending the marathon game hours after seniors were honored with their families.

"She threw a nice strike right down the plate and I took advantage and hit it," Willingham said. "When everyone started screaming I knew it was going to be the game-winning hit."

And it was Willingham's fellow seniors who helped set the stage for her walk-off hit. Senior pitcher Allie Fleming struck out 10 Rockets batters over nine innings and held Spring Grove (8-10 overall, 6-7 YAIAA Division I) to two runs over the last seven innings.

"She's a gutsy pitcher," Pilarcik said of Fleming. "I knew she was getting tired, but I told her to stay tough and she did."

Fleming's most pivotal moment came in the eighth inning when the Rockets loaded the bases with no outs. Fleming got Amy Senft to fly out to left field and the Rockets' base-runner broke for home but stopped halfway after realizing she had left third base too early. She began to retreat, but Mustangs' third baseman Hannah Glover applied the tag for the second out, and Fleming forced a groundout before the Rockets did any damage.

Fleming was in the reverse role in the sixth when she broke for home on a sacrifice fly by senior Allie Zombro. The throw from Hayley Norton in center field seemed to beat Fleming to the plate, but Fleming danced around the tag and scored, tying the game at 6-6.

"She was tired but she didn't let anyone see it," Glover said of Fleming. "She pushed through it and she always has our back when we need it."

Glover — also a senior — hit an RBI-single during South Western's four-run third inning, then stole a base and eventually scored on a passed ball, officially erasing a four-run deficit.

Norton's RBI-single in the top of the sixth briefly gave the Rockets a 6-4 lead before Fleming's dance at the plate sent the game to extra innings and set the stage for Willingham's big moment.

When Willingham's single looped over the second baseman's head, the South Western dugout broke into a frenzy.

"As soon as we saw it get past the infield, we knew she was in," Glover said. "It was awesome."

Pilarcik didn't hesitate to send the runner home from second.

"I was sending her home either way," Pilarcik said. "They're (Spring Grove) a good team and I was going to make them make that play."

They didn't and it was the Mustangs who were mobbing their senior teammates, celebrating a win over their rival and a crucial win in their hunt for a district playoff berth.

"We have three games left and it's in our hands," Pilarcik said. "We'll take it one game at a time and go from there."

South Western 7, Spring Grove 6 (9)

Spring Grove040101000—6101South Western004002001—7101

SG, Julia Wivell and Caraline Cornman, SW, Allie Fleming and Kaitlyn Chell

SO-BB — SG, Wivell 2-6, SW, Fleming, 10-7; W — Fleming; L — Wivell; 2B — SG 5 (Cornman 2, Wivell, Hayley Norton, Amy Senft), SW (Chell) ; HR —SG (Kira Hull);

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