LIZTON -- It took nearly two days to finish, but the North Putnam High School girls' softball squad advanced to the finals of the Tri-West Sectional after knocking off archrival South Putnam, 5-4.
"We told them all week that they could beat (the Eagles) and they believed it," NPHS Coach George Pearson said following Friday's win. "The kids bought into it."
But it wasn't easy.
The Cougars trailed, 4-3, heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Leah Crosby started the final-inning rally with a single and advanced after Jessi Wilborn bunted her to second.
With one out and a runner on second, Chelsea Greene singled, driving in Crosby for the tying run.
South Putnam attempted to throw out Crosby at the plate, allowing Greene to take second.
Mackenzie Pearson then bunted Greene to third. The senior catcher took second base during a moment of confusion, bringing Laura Blaydes up to bat.
The senior third baseman popped up to first, but South Putnam pitcher opted to walk Brook Miller, loading the bases for Maggie Mullis.
Briones' first pitch to Mullis sailed over the head of battery mate Meghan Canary, allowing Greene to score the winning run.
"We took some gambles and they paid off," Pearson said. "Earlier in the year, we lost some games and you could look in the dugout and tell. But these kids never dropped their heads."
Following the game, SPHS Coach Allan Rains said the Cougars deserved all the credit.
"They outplayed us in every phase of the game," Rains said. "They came ready to play. They earned it. They just flat beat us."
The Cougars tallied 10 hits in the win. Alyssa Simpson had two doubles while Miller was 3-for-3 at the plate.
Miller went the distance, scattering nine hits while giving up four runs. She finished with four strikeouts.
Briones picked up the loss in her final game for South Putnam. The senior hurler gave up five runs off 10 hits while fanning two.
Offensively, the Eagles had nine hits. Megan Robinson and Oceaia Boetjer both had three hits and one double each.
Rains said the Eagles will miss the two seniors they are graduating this year in Briones and first baseman Jessica Canary.
"They were good kid," Rains said. "They contributed a lot to our program."
South Putnam 200 101 0 -- 4 9 4
North Putnam 100 101 2 -- 5 10 3
Miller and Pearson; Briones and M. Canary
WP -- Miller
LP -- Briones
2B -- Simpson 2 (NPHS); Boetjer, Robinson (SPHS)
South Putnam ended the year with a 17-6 record.