An upset was not in the cards Saturday for 10th-seed West Aurora at the Class 4A Downers South Regional title game.
Strong pitching from sophomore Caroline Hedgcock, timely hitting and flawless defense lifted the second-seeded hosts to a 7-1 victory.
"I was more impressed with their defense," West Aurora coach Randy Hayslett said. "They made every play possible.
"Obviously, they hit the ball hard enough. We needed to make plays defensively and you can't spot them three runs like we did [in the second inning]."
The Mustangs (32-2) took advantage of a leadoff walk, two infield errors and just one hit — sophomore Nicole Bowman's RBI single — to score three unearned runs early. That was all hard-throwing lefty Hedgcock (17-2) would need.
"I had heard of her from other teams," said senior center fielder and Monmouth College recruit Gianna Drager, who had a single in the sixth when the Blackhawks pushed across their lone run on a wild pitch.
"She threw hard but had a nice rise and screw. She hit her spots and kept hitters off balance," Drager added.
Hedgcock retired 12 in a row before giving up a sharp single through the left side of the infield to opposing starter Kaylee Hayton to lead off the fifth. Hedgcock finished with a three-hitter and 10 strikeouts.
Maggie Bailey had the other hit for West Aurora (16-15).
Downers South advances to Wednesday's Class 4A Oswego East Sectional semifinal against crosstown rival Downers North. The teams' only meeting this season was rained out.
"We came out pretty well and took advantage of mistakes early," said Mustangs coach Ron Havelka, whose teams have won 15 regional titles in his 22 seasons.
"Caroline was in control early on and once we got up three we just tried to add runs."
Bowman, who reached base three times (hit by pitch, fielder's choice), drove in two runs. Zahrya McFarland also reached three times, going 2-for-2 with one walk.
Hayslett alternated senior Hayton and freshman Hannah Beatus in the pitching circle. They combined to give up seven hits and walked three but were hurt by three errors.
"We had a few wild pitches but Kaylee and Hannah didn't throw too badly," Hayslett said. "Our plan was to give their hitters different looks. If we could have made a few more plays, we might have been looking at a 4-1 deficit."