HEBRON | First-year Hebron coach Mike McLindon admits to being the nervous type.
"I always pace," he said. "I cannot sit still. I love it."
McLindon endured several tense moments Tuesday, but he finished with a smile on his face as the host and Class 2A No. 10-ranked Hawks edged Hanover Central 2-1 for the program's first regional crown in softball.
Hebron used a fourth-inning bunt as the catalyst for its two-run rally. Laura MacNeil dropped it down the third-base line to start the frame. One out and a Carrie Combs single later, No. 9 hitter Christy Reick pushed a ball to the right of pitching rubber and legged out an RBI single.
"Christy is a track star and she's an outstanding bunter," McLindon said of Reick, who's a sprinter in her other sport. "We just used the small-ball approach. We've been doing it all year and the girls have confidence (in it)."
Later in the frame, Alyssa Spore made it 2-0 with an RBI single.
After Combs (11-1) gave Hebron four innings of one-hit ball, Mollie Lindeman secured the save with four strikeouts in her three innings of work. Lindeman also benefited from a pair of defensive plays.
After Hanover (14-12) split the deficit in half in the fifth, Hawks left fielder Kyle Doelling threw out the potential tying run at home plate to end the frame. The Wildcats' next at-bat concluded when catcher Emily O'Leary threw out courtesy runner Megan Kirn at third after the latter tried to advance two bases on a wild pitch.
"That just gives me confidence," Lindeman said of the good defense. "I know that they can back me up. I can't always get the strikeout."
That strategy changed in the top of the seventh, as Hanover put runners on first and third with two outs.
"I was a little bit stressed (and) I was just trying to get the strikeout," said Lindeman, who slipped a third strike past Ashley Loy to end the game.
"Hanover Central is so well-coached," McLindon said. "I told (Wildcats coach Larry McMillen) that they are the class (of the Porter County Conference). They're such competitors."
McMillen was proud of his team, especially its midseason turnaround. The Hawks will play Jimtown (23-4) at 10 a.m. Saturday in the LaVille Semistate.
"We started 2-7 and we still won sectional," McMillen said. "I thought our girls played a great game. It was just a game of inches."