WINAMAC | Emily O’Leary hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning, but it wasn’t enough for state No. 4-ranked Hebron to complete a comeback, falling 5-2 against No. 2 Rochester in the Class 2A Winamac Sectional on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t make adjustments soon enough," Hebron coach Mike McLindon said. "That’s (Rochester) a great team. There’s a reason they’re the number two team in the state. They made all the plays, and we didn’t."
The Zebras (28-1) scored four runs in the third inning. With two outs, Abbie Malchow doubled to right field, scoring Alexis Hampton and Rylee Holland to give the Zebras a 2-0 lead. The next batter, Maggie Gold, hit a two-run home run to left center field, bringing in Malchow to put Rochester up 4-0.
In the fourth inning, the Zebras scored on a throwing error. Hebron had three errors in the game.
“We made some errors," McLindon said. "Against great competition and great players you can’t make mistakes and give them opportunities, and we did. We didn’t quit. We battled until the last out.”
Mollie Lindeman pitched a complete game for Hebron (18-4). She gave up seven hits, one walk and struck out four.
“She always throws a solid game," McLindon said. "There’s no question about it. We just didn’t make plays for her. You have to make the plays, and you have to back her up. We made a few too many mistakes, and you just can’t against good teams.”
Katie Clemens and Emily O’Leary each had two hits for Hebron.
In the first semifinal match-up, North Newton (19-12) defeated Winamac 4-0. The Spartans scored in the first inning on an Allyson Leach double to center field that scored Nicolle Babbitt.
“It’s not bad if you’re the visitors," North Newton assistant coach Glen Cain said. "If you score first, you get in their head right away, and we seemed to do that. We scored, and kept telling them one run is not enough. This is a good group of girls, and they came ready to play.”
The Spartans added runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Alyssia Powers and Aubrey Spencer both hit sacrifice flies, and one run was scored on an error by the Warriors. The Warriors had six errors in the game.
Leach gave up six hits and struck out three.
“We went with her again today, because she was hot yesterday,” Cain said of Leach.
Hayley Ross had two hits for the Spartans, who will meet Rochester in the sectional championship Thursday.