Rachel Synkelma could not remember the last time the Ironwood Ridge softball team played a complete, seven-inning game.
But she could tell you it definitely was not Tuesday against Sabino.
Thanks to late-game heroics by Synkelma, the Nighthawks stayed perfect at home with a 12-2 win over the Sabercats in six innings.
Ironwood Ridge (23-5) needed two runs in the fifth inning to seal a 10-0 win over Sabino. But the Nighthawks went 1-2-3.
Sabino (19-7) then scored twice to narrow I-Ridge's lead to 8-2, making a run-rule win unlikely.
But the Nighthawks had another idea. Jordan Rocker led off the sixth with a single, and two batters later, Sarah Rodriguez walked. Dani Colwill sliced a grounder up the middle to load the bases.
With two outs, Synkelma blooped a hit into shallow left to score Rocker and Rodriguez. Colwill moved to third, and Synkelma took second on the throw home.
Lauren Robinson followed with a hard grounder up the middle that slowly rolled into shallow center after Kelsey Jenkins dived to get a piece of the ball at second. But by the time anyone could get to the ball, Synkelma had scored - and her teammates were pouring onto the field from the dugout to celebrate the run-rule victory.
Ironwood Ridge coach Randy Anway said he felt the defense also played well.
Nighthawks starting pitcher Makayla McAdams did not surrender any earned runs. She struck out five and allowed five hits.
"They had a lot of short gamers, and obviously, they put pressure on," Anway said. "I think that was a good test for us to see how we're able to handle that, and I thought we did fairly well."
Additionally, there was a stretch where the Nighthawks retired 11 of 13 batters from the second inning to the fifth.
McAdams improved to 17-5 with the win.
"You just have to keep a strong mental attitude, and you can't show any emotion out there," she said of her game plan. "Otherwise, they'll pick up on it and catch on real fast."
In the bottom of the second, Rodriguez launched a three-run home run to right field with two outs to cap a five-run inning, giving the Nighthawks a 6-0 lead. It was her 13th round-tripper of the season.
"I didn't think it was going to go out, so I was just running. But when I saw it went out, it was pretty exciting," Rodriguez said. "I was just looking for a base hit, but home runs just come."
Sabino coach Jeff Fowler said the loss can be taken as a learning experience.
"You can't just think that you can step on the field and go beat anybody, especially a team like Ironwood Ridge," he said. "They're as good as anybody there is in state, so we'll learn from it and get better."