PEARL CITY – One swing into history. That's all it took.
Senior Destinee Oenes erased the memory of a sloppy start for the Amboy Clippers during Saturday's 1A Pearl City Sectional championship game against Orangeville.
Oenes clubbed a solo home run – the game's lone extra-base hit – to break a tie score in the bottom of the eighth inning, giving the Clippers their first sectional championship with a 3-2 victory.
Amboy advances to today's 1A DeKalb Supersectional, where it will meet Putnam County at 4:30 p.m.
"It was do-or-die," Oenes said. "I thought, 'Someone has to do it.' I told Micaela [McCoy] to get on, and that I would hit her home. That failed, but we came back. If it wasn't me, someone else would have done it."
After Amboy fell behind 2-0 after two innings, a defensive duel ensued behind pitchers Tori Clark and Amboy's Karlee Doege.
The offenses managed only two hits between the third and sixth innings.
"We were hitting her solid," Amboy coach Kelly Whitman said. "We were just hitting it right at them. We knew eventually we would sneak one through. Our bottom half came through by getting on base, and we moved them."
Junior Courtney Rhine started things for Amboy with a single up the middle in the seventh, and Hannah McCoy followed suit with another single.
After a flyout, senior Kelsie Thurman broke the shutout by singling in Rhine, and Madeline Ely batted in McCoy to tie the score at two. Things were looking good for the Clippers, as they had runners on second and third with only one out.
A ground ball to third changed that, as Thurman got stuck on the basepath and was ultimately tagged out at third. A strikeout followed to end the inning.
"They saved me," Whitman said. "One out and tied, I held her at third, and she ends up not scoring. I was glad we were able to pull through."
Doege continued to roll, as she retired the side in order to set the stage for Oenes' heroics. Doege picked up the win, going eight innings, giving up two runs, both unearned, and five hits, while walking three and striking out three.
"Karlee really settled down and focused on doing her job," Whitman said. "She did one heck of a job today."
Orangeville struck first in the second inning, as it took advantage of two throwing errors committed by Amboy (21-9). Both came on bunt situations, and both resulted in a run on the board for the Broncos.
Oenes stopped the bleeding.
With a runner on third, Orangeville's Megan Stamm placed a hard bunt down the third-base line. It was fielded by Oenes, and she alertly faked a throw to first, and turned it around to catch the runner trying to take home. It kept a run off the board for the Broncos, but they still held a 2-0 lead after the second inning.
"It was rough," Oenes said. "We've always gotten knocked out in this game, and we were really trying to bring it home this time, and we never gave up. That was key. We needed to settle down. We earned it to make it this far, and needed to settle in and play our game."
"When we got those errors, we kind of got down on ourselves," Doege said. "But we got back up once we started hitting, and when Courtney started us off with a hit, we knew it was going to be a good inning."
Star of the game: Destinee Oenes, Amboy, Walk-off HR in bottom of the 8th.
Key performer: Karlee Doege, Amboy, 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Up next: 1A DeKalb Supersectional, Amboy vs. Putnam County, 4:30 p.m. Monday