CARROLLTON, Ill. – The Calhoun Warriors and Carrollton Hawks already put on two instant-classics on the softball diamond this season.

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So, when the two were set to face off again, this time in the postseason with a sectional title on the line, it was to complete the trilogy.

A trilogy owned by the Hawks.

Carrollton won 5-4 in eight innings on April 19 and then again 9-8 on May 7. Both of those were walk-off wins for the Hawks.

Thursday, the sectional championship proved to have the same effect as Carrollton won 1-0 on a seventh-inning, walk-off home run from Hannah Uhles.

Hawks’ head coach Travis Klingler could be overheard telling his team that the time was now. That was the bottom of the sixth with the top of the order coming around.

That wasn’t the case as nine-hitter Courtney Walkheuser popped out and then Lauren Flowers flew out. Hayden McMurtrie reached via a single but was caught stealing second to end the inning.

A scoreless game went on into the seventh.

Flowers, dealing in the circle for Carrollton, went three-up, three-down to head back to the bottom of the seventh.

Uhles, the three-hitter, worked a full count, saw a fastball, and just barely took it over the fence in right-center field to win the game 1-0.

“I’m so happy right now, you have no idea,” an out-of-breath Uhles said postgame.

“I think it was just a fastball outside, to be honest,” she said. “She threw me a couple of changeups, luckily I fouled them off, but I was getting nervous. I assumed fastball because it was 3-2. I was just ready for anything. She’s a good pitcher, I was ready.”

Calhoun pitcher Audrey Gillman had been equally efficient as Flowers in the circle. She got Uhles to fly out in the first and strike out in the fourth.

“But I knew I could do it,” Uhles said. “I was 0-2, but I could feel it.”

She didn’t so much feel the swing.

“It really felt like nothing, just a good little swing,” she said. “I didn’t think it was out at first then I was around second and I saw it was over.”

It was a rollercoaster of emotions for Klingler from the sixth inning to the seventh.

“Hayden [McMurtrie] got on there in the sixth and I contemplated just leaving her there with a good hitter in Hannah [Uhles] up,” he said.

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“I thought if [McMurtrie] steals, and she gets to second base, then we have her in scoring position for Hannah and she’d score on a base hit. So, we took the gamble, it didn’t work, they threw her out.”

It was worth a shot.

She was just Carrollton’s third baserunner of the afternoon. Gillman had struck out eight batters up to that point and wasn’t making it easy for the Hawks.

“But then I thought we still have three, four, five coming up,” Klingler continued. “It was a huge hit for Hannah. She’s been working in the offseason. I’m so happy for her. She really battled during that at-bat, and when she hit it, I didn’t know for sure if it was going to get there. I wasn’t sure it cleared, but when I saw the umpire, I was pretty pumped.”

The dramatic ending sends Carrollton to Monday’s super-sectional against the winner of the Illini Bluffs Sectional, either Pleasant Hill (27-5) or the hosts Illini Bluffs (22-1). The super-sectional is set for 11 a.m. on Monday in Athens.

It is Carrollton’s second straight sectional title and eighth in program history. Before last year, Carrollton hadn't won a sectional title since 2002 when the Hawks finished second in state with a 34-3 record under head coach Lori Blade in her final season.

It also brought the Hawks to 34-2 on the season, while Calhoun’s year ends at 25-7-1.

It was also a rematch of last season’s sectional championship game, one that Carrollton won 2-1 before losing 3-2 to Illini Bluffs in the super. The Tigers wound up taking second at state.

Gillman pitched in all three games this season against the Hawks. In the first meeting on April 19, she threw seven innings and struck out 17 batters. Wednesday, she struck out eight.

That was the deciding factor for the Hawks according to Klingler.

“We limited our strikeouts and that’s the biggest thing we were trying to do,” he said. “Since the first game [Gillman] had a lot of strikeouts. We were chasing on up and I think today outside of one or two pitches we did a good job of laying off her rise ball and letting that go for a ball and getting her deep into more counts and getting her tired.”

Flowers also pitched a complete game and struck out six while only allowing two hits and a walk.

“She’s phenomenal. She lives for this,” Klingler said about Flowers. “She’s been fantastic this postseason, somehow always steps it up a notch.”

Calhoun’s best chance at scratching a run across came in the top of the fourth when Anabel Eilerman hit a leadoff double. Bralyn Lammy pinch-ran and moved to third after a sacrifice bunt from Delani Klaas, but Flowers got back-to-back strikeouts to keep the game scoreless.

Calhoun’s only other hit was a leadoff single from Lacy Pohlman in the second.

McMurtrie was two-for-three with a couple of singles. Flowers had a single in the third and Uhles had the big hit in the seventh.

When asked if Uhles had the greenlight in the seventh, Klingler was quick to answer.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Any of those top-five, they have the green light all the time. [Uhles] is one of our best hitters and she proved it today.”

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