Williamstown needed someone to bang a big hit off Toms River East fireballer Lindsey PeQueen yesterday in the South Jersey Group 4 softball championship game.
It was the bottom of the 11th inning, and East, which had taken the lead three times, was in front, 5-3, and looking invincible.
However, Williamstown senior Katie Trotter stepped up to the plate and smashed a two-out, three-run home run over the left-field fence to lift the Braves to a dramatic 6-5 victory as well as their second consecutive sectional crown.
Williamstown, the top seed in the South and ranked No. 1 by The Inquirer, will meet the Central Jersey Group 4 champion at a neutral site on Tuesday in a state semifinal game. The Braves raised their record to 20-2 and are on a mission to defend their state title.
Trotter held the game ball as her teammates and fans screamed with joy. But she remained as composed as she had been in the pitcher's circle all afternoon.
PeQueen "has pretty good movement, and I wouldn't doubt that it was just a fastball," said Trotter of the pitch that she slammed to score Jody Salvatore and Danielle McDevitt before she crossed the plate.
Trotter, who struck out, popped out to shortstop Holly Luctano twice, walked and flied out to centerfielder Kaila Conboy, did indeed get a hold of a fastball and give it a ride. But she wouldn't take take credit for the win.
"It truly takes a team to win a game like this," Trotter said. "To get the runners on, to have the defense in the field, to get the hits we need takes a team."
Conversely, her teammates and her coach praised Trotter, a pitcher who has won all but one of their games and who entered the game with a .540 batting average.
"She's my hero," senior rightfielder McDevitt said. "Kate always comes through when we need her."
Williamstown coach Fred Powell said that in his 18 years at the helm, Trotter's three-run homer produced the most dramatic, come-from-behind victory he can remember.
"They shut her down the whole game, but we finally caught up with PeQueen by being more patient and making her throw strikes," Powell said.
Toms River East (26-3), the second seed, took a 2-0 lead in top of the second inning.
The Raiders held the lead until the fifth, when McDevitt stroked a single that scored Salvatore and Courtney Mckenna to tie the score, 2-2.
East might have scored in the seventh and eighth if Williamstown junior second baseman Justine Mattia hadn't made two sensational stops and throws to first baseman Jessica Martinez for outs.
Meanwhile, Trotter was keeping the Raiders off balance with her pitch selection for the most part until the 10th inning, when East scored on a throwing error for a 3-2 lead.
Chrissy Tamburrino singled in Briana Molino to tie the game, 3-3.
The Raiders went ahead again, 5-3, in the eleventh before Trotter trumped them.
Toms River East 020 000 000 12 - 5 7 2
Williamstown 000 020 000 13 - 6 7 2
WP: Katie Trotter. LP: Lindsey PeQueen.
HR: W-Trotter. 2B: TRE-Corey Schwartz. W-Jessica Martinez, Justine Mattia.