JOHNSTON CITY -- The Pinckneyville High School softball team put itself one win away from a return trip to the state tournament with an 8-4 victory over Trico in the championship game of the Johnston City 2A Sectional on Saturday.
The Lady Panthers improved to 32-4 and play in the Johnston City Super-Sectional on Monday afternoon against Casey-Westfield, a team it split with during the regular season. The winner advances to the IHSA's Class 2A state semifinals in East Peoria.
Trico (28-5) scored the game's first run when Juhle Prange hit a home run off of Mariah Clark in the second inning.
It stayed 1-0 until Pinckneyville plated five runs in the fifth inning after not getting a hit against Jade Kranawetter in the first four frames.
Megan Mayo started the rally with a home run.
"We were kind of dead in the water then Megan Mayo hits a huge home run to let us breathe again," said Pinckneyville coach Alan Engelhardt. "She's come through in such big spots for us. She put a great swing on it."
Lynlee Lindner then drew a one-out walk and Dasiy Dudek hit an RBI single. Then with two outs, Josie Gleason then hit a fly ball that was dropped and both Kylee Kling and Emma Banach made it hurt with run-scoring hits to make it 5-1.
"We had a lot of kids contribute which is what you expect from this group," Engelhardt said. "We have kids in a lot of spots that can hit."
Trico's Danyelle Eilers hit a two-run double in the sixth and were within a run before Lindner made a spectacular shoestring catch in right field to keep the Lady Panthers in the lead.
"That's a big play," Engelhardt said. "With a runner on second, they probably score and tie the game. They had all the momentum."
Lauren Jackson hit a two-out, bases-loaded fly ball to left field that was misplayed to give Pinckneyville three more runs in the seventh.
Clark finished with 13 strikeouts in the circle for the Lady Panthers.