It was one of those coaching decisions with no great option.
In a 6-6 game in the top of the seventh, Ar-We-Va had runners at first and second with one out.
Senior Emily Hinners was up, and she already had blasted a three-run homer and lined a two-run single.
You don’t necessarily want to intentionally walk her and put the go-ahead run on third, where a wild pitch or a fly ball to the outfield will change the game. St. Albert coach Lyndsay Daley went to the circle to talk to her daughter, freshman pitcher Mallory Daley. The younger Daley wanted to pitch to her.
“I said, ‘Just nothing good,’’’ Lyndsay Daley said. “She goes, ‘Nothing good, nothing good.’’’
The first pitch was good enough, because Hinners drilled it over the left-field fence for a three-run homer. The Rockets needed all three of those runs, as they held off a Saintes rally in the bottom of the seventh for a 9-8, Class 1-A regional first-round victory Monday at the St. Albert field.
Hinners, who on this night was appropriately nicknamed “Hammer,’’ entered the game batting .211, and had managed just 11 RBIs in 18 games. She nearly matched that with eight in one memorable night. She finished 3-for-4, and the blemish came on what normally would be a hit. With a runner at first, she lined one to center for what appeared to be a single, but the Saintes fired quickly enough to second to get the forceout on a close play.
On her game-winning hit, Hinners said she wasn’t sure if she’d get the opportunity.
“I was thinking they were definitely going to intentionally walk me because I was having such a great night,’’ she said. “It looked like (Coach Daley) was giving her the option: ‘Do you want to walk her, or do you want to pitch to her?’ And by the looks of it, the pitcher was like, ‘I’m going to pitch her outside.’ And I saw the first one and I was like, ‘I have to. It’s there.’
“It was in between. Close to the middle but close to outside. It was right there where I could get it.’’
Ar-We-Va improved to 8-11 and will play at No. 12 West Harrison (25-3) on Wednesday in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal game. St. Albert, which was playing its first postseason home game since 2010 and was seeking its first postseason win since that year, closed at 4-29.
Starting pitcher Jessica McMartin, an eighth-grader, missed the final 12 games to a leg injury, thrusting the younger Daley into that role.
“Mallory hates to pitch,’’ Lyndsay Daley said. “Absolutely hates it, but she pitched a great game.’’
In addition, junior Shelby Hatcher, a Lewis Central transfer with good power, believed she would become eligible to play for the Saintes, but was denied due to a technicality, hampering the Saintes’ hopes.
The St. Albert coach believes the program is making strides.
“Everyone knows it’s building, it’s coming,’’ she said.
Sophomore Sarah Eggerling went 3-for-4 for the Saintes, and classmate Allie Petry went 2-for-5. Junior Isabel Pershing reached three times and scored three runs.
After Hinners belted a three-run homer in the second, her two-run single in the fifth tied the game at 6-6, setting the stage for her second three-run shot.
In the bottom of the seventh, St. Albert scored two runs with two outs on a throwing error to pull within 9-8, but Petry grounded out to second to end it.
St. Albert graduates one senior, leading hitter Peyton Carman.
“Peyton’s the epitome of our program,’’ Lyndsay Daley said. “She listens. She works hard. She’s going to be missed.’’
Carman said the hardest part will be “saying goodbye. I love them all.’’
Ar-We-Va (8-11) 030 030 3—9 8 5
St. Albert (4-29) 023 100 2—8 10 0
W: Jadeyn Smith. L: Mallory Daley. 2B: A, Leslie Luft. HR: A, Emily Hinners 2 (3).