HAMMOND | Junior Kati Kontor kept telling her coach to relax.
"In the dugout, Kati told me to relax, that they had it," Gavit coach Lisa Mendoza said. "They never gave up, and that attitude paid off."
So did an eight-run rally in the top of sixth inning. The rally took the Gladiators from a 10-5 deficit to a 13-10 win over Clark in the sectional final.
It was the fourth straight sectional crown for the Gladiators (13-7), and the third straight for Mendoza and Kontor.
Kontor (3-4, 3 RBI, 2 runs) kept her word to her coach when she lined a single to drive in a pair of runs in the sixth that brought the Gladiators to within one, 10-9.
"I was nervous that at-bat," Kontor said. "I felt like it was on my shoulders to do something. I was the only upperclassmen here today, so I needed to lead."
Gavit only had nine players for the game, eight of them underclassmen.
Clark (8-13) jumped out to an early lead when they scored three runs in the third and five more in the fourth to make it 10-4. Andrea Zamora was the big thumper for the Pioneers. She rapped a two-run double off of the base of the wall, then followed that with a three-run homer in the third.
But Gavit chipped away with single runs in the next two innings to set the stage for its uprising in the sixth.
Bre Mangerson (3-4, RBI, 3 runs) led off the sixth with a double. After Erika Ramirez reached base on an error, both came home on a single by winning pitcher Elyssia Alamillo. A walk and a single set up Kontor, who drove both runners home with a sharp line drive to right-center.
The Gladiators got five straight singles after two were out to keep the rally alive.
Clark coach Christina Delgado lamented the mental and physical errors her Pioneers made, especially in the sixth.
"One inning did in our whole season," Delgado said. "I think some of the younger girls were a little nervous, playing in such a big game. It's really a shame, because our team has played good defense for most of the season. We just need to learn from this and come back strong next year."
Even though Gavit has won four sectional titles, they have yet to advance past the first game of the regional.
"We have had a tough time trying to advance," Mendoza said. "But we are optimistic that this is our year to make some noise."