The Grace Academy Lady Golden Eagles had beaten the Silverdale Lady Seahawks three times in softball this spring with the last two times being tense and down-to-the-wire one-run games.
These same two teams met again on Thursday afternoon with the District 5-A tournament title on the line.
Grace prevailed again, but this time the issue was decided a long time before the final out had been recorded.
Scoring a single run in the fourth inning before adding three in the fifth and sixth innings, Grace claimed its sixth straight 5-A tournament title with the 9-2 victory.
"This is awesome," began Grace coach Tina Walker after her girls had improved to 24-7.
"This is six in a row for winning the regular-season championship and the tournament. It never gets old as this one is as good as the first one.
"It was a little nerve-racking at first, but today was able to relax a little bit and enjoy it more. Katie (Henderson) is a very good pitcher, but we had prepared for her and new about what to expect. We just had to execute what we have been practicing.
"Tory (Helton) did an outstanding job for us. The girl from Silverdale hit a good pitch for the home run and she crushed it. That hit upset Tory a little bit, but she was able to settle down and finished strong.
"Silverdale is a tough team and I always worry when we play them," Walker added.
Grace took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Reagan Schrader ripped a one-out double down the line past third and scored on a triple by Bethany Cowart. A passed ball allowed Cowart to score.
Silverdale knotted the score in the second. Lady Seahawk pitcher Katie Henderson reached on an infield error before Loren Hilton smashed a two-run homer deep to left.
Grace took the lead for good in the fourth before adding a little insurance later.
Kaitlyn Eldridge led off the fourth with a single and promptly stole second. She went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Helton before scoring on another perfectly-executed sacrifice by Savannah Jeno.
The Lady Golden Eagles were a long way from finished as they put icing on the cake with three runs in each of the last two innings.
Dean poked a one-out single to left before scoring on Schrader's second double of the day. Cowart then drove in her second run of the afternoon with a double to left-center and she later scored the third run on an infield hit by Maddy Horton.
Cowart added an RBI-single in the sixth and Eldridge drove in another with a groundout while the third run scored on a Silverdale error.
Silverdale got a one-out single from Henderson in the sixth while the Lady Seahawks got back-to-back two-out singles from Savannah Clay and Allison Meadows in the seventh, but on both occasions, Helton retired the side before any additional runs scored.
Silverdale coach Tim Couch knows that Grace has built a really strong program in recent years and that one day, he will have one with equal success.
"We just have to keep getting better. This one is over and we have to move on, but that's not how we wanted this tournament to end," he began after a post-game chat with his girls.
"Grace was ready, but I think we may have been a little tired after a bunch of games this week. We know that we have to play great softball to beat a time like Grace and we hope to be there one day.
"I thought at Katie threw well early, but this was her fourth-straight day to pitch and she too may have been tired at the end," Couch added.
Henderson was saddled with the loss after allowing all nine runs on 11 hits. She had six strikeouts and no walks.
Helton improved to 21-4 with her complete game in which she allowed two runs on six hits. She had four strikeouts and she hit a batter, but didn't walk anyone.
Cowart, who has been sidelined with a pulled hamstring in recent games, came back on a strong note to lead the win with three hits and three RBI while scoring twice.
Dean and Schrader both had two hits with Dean scoring twice and Schrader three times.
Eriika Goodman, Eldridge, Helton and Horton all had one hit apiece for Grace.
Hilton was the only Silverdale player with two hits.
Michaela Harrison, Meadows, Henderson and Clay had the other four hits.
Silverdale with travel to Jasper on Monday to face Marion County while Grace will be at home to face Whitwell. If Silverdale and Grace both win those opening games in the Region, they would meet for the fifth time next Wednesday afternoon at Grace.
Silverdale's Henderson, Hilton and Meadows were all honored as selections on the All-District team for the season while picks from Grace included Cowart, Eldridge, Schrader, Helton and Dean, who was voted the 5-A MVP.
Other selections included Copper Basin's Lindsey Brackett and Boyd-Buchanan teammates Jessica Murrell and Abbie Sewell. CSAS had four selections, including Kiara Suttles, Liana Rodrigues, Brianna Taylor and Jamani Greer.
SILVERDALE 020 000 0 -- 2 6 1
GRACE ACADEMY 200 133 x -- 9 11 1
Henderson and Harrison; Helton and Schrader.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)