Everything about Wednesday's Division II state softball winner's bracket game between top-seeded Peoria Sunrise Mountain and No. 3 Ironwood Ridge revolved around the two opposing pitchers.
And fittingly, the final play of the game came down to the Nighthawks' Makayla McAdams pitching to Sunrise Mountain's pitcher Taylor Nowlin with two outs in the seventh and a runner on first. McAdams had already retired Nowlin twice in the game but the third time around, Nowlin came out on top, hitting a walk-off double and giving her team the 1-0 victory.
"I thought it was a well-played game," said Nighthawks coach Randy Anway. "(Nowlin) is a good pitcher, and we had some opportunities, but we just came up a little short. So now we go back to work and prepare for our next game."
McAdams and Nowlin each dominated opposing batters. McAdams struck out eight and allowed only four hits while Nowlin struck out 10 and gave up four hits as well.
Neither team was able to put two hits together until the top of the sixth inning when, with one out, Ironwood Ridge seniors Robin Landrith and Erin Satterfield hit back-to-back doubles. This was the only time the Nighthawks were able to get runners in scoring position but Nowlin quickly put an end to the threat, forcing Sarah Rodriguez and Alexis Clinton to ground out and fly out respectively.
McAdams was just as dominant. Before the seventh inning, she had allowed only one Mustang to reach second base. Sunrise Mountain's Morgan Leonard singled with one out and advanced to second on a fielder's choice. She wasn't there long though as McAdams got the next batter, Nowlin, to strike out and end the inning.
With the loss, the Nighthawks now face a rematch against rival Canyon del Oro on Friday. They beat CDO in three of their last four games, most recently in the fourth round when the Nighthawks were able to hold on to a late 9-8 lead with a slightly controversial ending. A double play by CDO in the seventh inning was overturned when a line drive that appeared to be caught was ruled to have hit the ground. Ironwood Ridge scored its two go-ahead runs later in the inning for the win.
Now with one more chance and a rematch with a familiar opponent looming, McAdams is ready to bounce back strong.
"Tonight was definitely a tough way to lose," said McAdams. "But I'm proud of the way we played. We're going to come back with a vengeance. We're going to show up in our next game."