It had been four innings since Bree Saunders' shot had made its speedy exit over the wall in left field at the Kentucky Softball Complex, but she was still crying.
"This feels amazing," she said through her tears. "So amazing."
It had been more than 10 minutes since Scott County pitcher Sarah Howard had struck out the final two Lafayette batters, but she couldn't stop smiling.
A 4-3 win over the fourth-ranked team in the state can stir a vast array of emotions. It did for the No. 10 Cardinals, who advanced to Wednesday night's 11th Region championship game, where they will face Franklin County.
Scott County, the top defensive team in the region, was facing the region's highest scoring team, and defense won out.
The Cards held the Generals to three hits and stranded 11 base runners to triumph behind the pitching of Sarah Howard and starter Tanner Tevis.
"Other than the control issues, they did great," Scott County Coach Scott Walters said of his duo. "We've relied on those two all year long, and they kept them off balance. I'm pretty proud of them. They just kept digging, and they never quit."
Lafayette (35-5) came into the game with a region-best 313 runs, but the bats were relatively silent most of Tuesday night.
The loss snapped a 12-game win streak and helped Scott County win its seventh straight game.
Control wasn't always the Cards' hurlers' friend, but they managed to get the outs when they counted. In the third, Scott County walked in a run and then Howard's illegal pitch scored another.
"I just tried not to get too down on myself," she said. "There wasn't much I could do but go on to the next batter."
After falling behind 2-1 in that third inning, the Cardinals (26-5-1) responded in the fourth with two runs on Saunders' home run that sailed far over the fence in left field.
It was her fourth homer of the season and the first of the region tournament this week.
"Woooo," Walters said of her hit. "I was just hoping it would stay fair. ... She got all of that pitch. It was a good shot. I'd like to say I gave her that signal, but I didn't."
Howard knocked in another run in the fifth on a single to left to make it 4-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lafayette scored on Brittany Sims' sacrifice fly to shallow center. But for the second time in the game, the Generals stranded three runners.
No. 23 Franklin County 6, Madison Central 5: In the post-game huddle, Tracy Spickard pointed to her heart.
She told her team it was their heart that spurred a come-from-behind victory in the semifinals.
But really, she may have been indicating hers nearly stopped about five times in the final three innings when the lead changed hands four times.
"They're going to make me an old woman," Spickard joked after her second straight tight game in as many days.
In a game that had hero-making potential, Sara Watts was the one, knocking in Mollie Stephens and then heading home on a fielding error.
"We showed we're passionate and that we have heart," said Watts, who had two singles while hitting ninth.
Stephens went 3-for-3 with two singles and a two-run double in the fourth inning to tie the game at 3 after Central's three-run third.
In the sixth inning, the Indians pulled back ahead 5-4 on a two-run single by Kristen Congleton before the Flyers (24-14), who won their 11th in a row, responded in the sixth to win it.
"Pure heart is what won that game," Spickard said. "They beat us in nearly every stat category except the score. ... We kept fighting and kept scratching to get the win."
The Indians (22-18), who had four errors, were led by Congleton's three hits. Ashleigh Livingston and Katie Lamb each had two hits.
Madison Central 003 002 0—5 10 4
Franklin County 000 312 x—6 8 1
Haylee King and Michele Smith. Emily Hampton and Brandi Allen. W—Hampton. L—King. 2B—Kristen Congleton (MC), Hampton (FC), Ashli Mayes (FC), Mollie Stephens (FC); 3B—Katie Lamb (MC),
Records—Franklin County 24-14, Madison Central 22-18.
Scott County 001 210 0—4 6 1
Lafayette 002 010 0—3 3 3
Tanner Tevis, Sarah Howard (3) and Taber Lewis. Cassidy Taylor and Alexis Hull. W—Howard. L—Taylor. 2B—Howard (SC); HR—Bree Saunders (SC).
Records—Scott County 26-5-1, Lafayette 35-5.