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From left: Pendleton Heights’ Jamie Hubble (10), Krosley Ogden, Kinzie Davis, Jessica Cates and Alyssa Hathcoat huddle before the start of Tuesday’s regional game at Cathedral. Pendleton Heights has won 21 straight games.

“It all comes down to execution and in that last inning we didn’t execute,” Pendleton Heights softball coach Rob Davis said.

The Arabians were three outs from playing for the 4A state championship next week at Ben Davis. But two walks, two errors and two hits brought Avon back from the brink of defeat for a 2-1 victory.

PH pitcher Jessica Cates was three outs away from a second straight shutout Saturday in 90-plus degree heat. She had given up just three hits in six innings going into the seventh, and the Orioles had the seventh, eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup coming to the plate for that inning.

But Mac Johnston, Avon’s freshman catcher, walked to lead off the last frame. It was Cates’ third walk and second to Johnston.

Haleigh Hewitt tried to bunt the runner up a base and popped it up at the plate. PH catcher Sierra Lewis squeezed it, but it popped out of her glove. By the time she retrieved it, runners were at first and second with nobody out.

Avon’s Taylar Kelso also bunted, but PH third baseman Alyssa Hathcoat made a nice running catch for the first out.

Leadoff hitter Breanne Lahart stroked a ball to center. Arabian center fielder Caitlynn McCord tried for the catch but the ball bounced in front of her, got by her and rolled to the fence. One run scored and the runners advanced to second and third.

Riley Larkin was intentionally walked. PH pulled its infield and outfield in. Allison Bexell grounded to shortstop Krosley Ogden, who threw home for the force and the second out of the inning.

It appeared that the Arabians might force extra innings when Cates got two quick strikes on Orioles pitcher Haleigh Chasteen. But Chasteen took the next pitch and grounded it up the middle just beyond the reach of Cates.

It rolled into center field and with it the Arabians’ hopes for the state.

“Give her (Chasteen) credit,” said Davis. “She battled. They didn’t give up. We had chances to get more runs and just didn’t get it done.”

The lone PH run came courtesy of an Avon error and a ringing two-out single to left from Hathaway. That came in the fifth, and Cates made it stand up until the seventh.

The Arabians had bases loaded in the first with one out. But Kinzie Davis popped out and Cates grounded into a force out. In the top of the seventh, Kelsey Hubble and Ogden singled and after McCord’s sacrifice bunt there were runners on second and third with two outs. Hathcoat hit a ball deep to center that Lahart misjudged initially but recovered to end the inning with an over-the-shoulder catch.

Davis shrugged off suggestions that Cates might have been tiring at the end.

“Heck no,” he said. “Avon is a team that puts the ball in play. They aren’t going to the state championship for nothing.”

There are six seniors on the PH roster: Ogden, Cates, McCord, Jamie Hubble, Chelsea Denman and Taylor Robinette.

“At the start of the year if you’d told me we would win 30 games (30-5), I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Davis. “If you would have told me we would get to the semistate, I would have believed that. I expected to be

here. But this one hurts.”

The loss broke a 22-game winning streak.

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