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SHELBYVILLE -- You could take Anna Kauffman's 10-pitch at-bat where she fouled pitches off left and right before smacking one over the fence.

Or maybe you like Abbey Walsh shaking off a strikeout and a ball going through her legs at third before diving for a catch seemingly out of reach, then firing off to first a double play.

And then there was Madison Cleland, shadowing Anna Watson to snag a ball that's bounced off Watson's glove and into hers.

On Tuesday, Tuscola never relented. The Warriors downed the team which knocked them out of the playoffs last year, Breese Central, 7-2 in a Class 2A Shelbyville Sectional semifinal that wasn't that close.

Central took an early 1-0 lead after Olivia Wesselmann walked, then scooted around the bases after a couple of Tuscola throwing errors. But after that, it was all Tuscola (30-5).

"I thought we were really going to have to fight for this win," Walsh said. "We wanted it -- I've been praying for it the whole season long."

The first of three homers came with Halle McCrory lurking in the shadows of the nine-hole. It's hard to think too many teams won't pick up she's now hit 11 home runs, but she has shown multiple times in the postseason how dangerous of a hitter she is.

"I just swing away," McCrory said. "I don't like thinking about it too much, because I get in my own head. I go up there and swing."

Then came Karli Allen's home run in the sixth before Kauffman's 10-round battle in the seventh.

If that wasn't enough theatrics for the Tuscola crowd, the Warriors turned in a multitude of impressive defensive plays.

Cleland's circus catch came off a fly ball that drifted into the outfield and Walsh's dive for a bunt both seemed to defy reality. In fact, Walsh didn't think she was going to get hers, but she was going to at least try.

Covered in dirt, she fired to Isabelle Shelmadine waiting at first, and doubled off Central's Madeline Kuper, who singled to lead the fifth.

"I didn't think it was possible to get to, but I thought, it's our team on the line," Walsh said. "This is huge since we lost to them last year and we needed to get that big catch. Isabelle and I have been on with the double play since the first game at regionals, and I knew she was going to be there."

Then there's Kauffman, who makes plays in the center others would have to dive for, look easy.

"She is so aggressive," Tuscola coach Lenny Sementi said. "Anna doesn't glide or coast to a ball. She goes like she's stealing money. There were a couple that looked like they were in gaps and she'd run them down."

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All that came as Maddie Meinhold fired off a five hitter while striking out 10. Through six, Central (22-12) didn't have one strong swing on her before cobbling together a couple of hits in the seventh for a meaningless run.

Saturday, Tuscola is playing for its first sectional title since the 2012 state run when this large senior class was in eighth grade. Through Tuesday's game, the Warriors are playing awfully similar to that group.

"I feel like we have a lot more chemistry as a team this year and we put a lot of work into our team, hitting-wise," McCrory said.

Flora 10, Meridian 2

Flora coach Greg Schafer knows his young team is a mystery to the rest of the state.

If they keep playing this way the next couple of weeks, that will have dissipated.

The Wolves (19-7) made their first big move against Teutopolis in the regional championship before taking down Meridian with a mostly freshman and sophomore-filled team.

The batting order starts with a sophomore trio of Skylar Freeman, Sydney Cammon and Kasey Jennings. And it's Cammon who's been stellar on the mound.

Cammon once again dazzled, keeping her poise when working out of jams through strikeouts and ground balls.

"She's the real deal," Schafer said. "Syd's got all the pitches -- she wants to play Division I ball. She works -- Saturday we scouted and we were on our way home with her dad.

"She called him and said I'm going to work out back and throw, where are your truck keys so I don't hit your truck? She works on hitting spots, but she never quits working and she does a great job. She doesn't get rattled. She'll take a step off and gather her thoughts and then get back on and make a pitch."

It was a fairly even game through six innings. After both offenses got off to a slow start, Flora broke through a bit in the fifth with a four-run inning. But Meridian (25-8) got one back in the sixth, with 9-1-2 awaiting in the seventh.

But Flora all but closed the door on a comeback, plating six runs in the top of the seventh. They used five hits -- the biggest being Kelsey Krutsinger's two-RBI double -- and gave Cammon a healthy lead.

"They did a nice job of driving the ball down into the dirt," Meridian coach Greg Streeval said. "They got a lot of good bounces. Not to take anything away from them, but they seemed to use the infield better than we did."

It's near uncharted territory for the Wolves, who will play for their first sectional title in program history on Saturday.

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Sports Writer

Sports Writer for the Herald & Review.

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