Turns out the preceding at-bat was foreshadow for how Marisa Stankiewicz decided this 5A Division I softball state tournament elimination game.
In the fourth inning of Gilbert's matchup with Hamilton, the Tigers' sophomore second baseman hit a laser to deep left field that was snared on the run by Huskies outfielder Stephanie Beuther.
The next time around the order, with the game tied at 1-1, Stankiewicz took the first pitch she saw from Abby Koehler and hit it further. Her solo home run in the sixth completed a comeback in a 2-1 victory that sent the No. 2-seed Tigers to play yet another day and ended Hamilton's season of "firsts."
Gilbert will face Tucson Salpointe for a second time this tournament on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Rose Mofford Softball Complex for the chance to go to the semifinals.
Stankiewicz lined the first pitch she saw over the left-center field fence on a line.
"The last at-bat (before the home run) I hit hard, and then I knew I could hit her," Stankiewicz said. "I thought it was a double.
Despite what both sides felt was a squeezed strike zone, both lineups struggled most of Saturday afternoon. Stankiewicz's home run was the only hard-hit ball that accounted for a run.
"We knew we could come back," she said.
The Huskies were in good position early, as freshman Sam Reynolds drew a walk against Gilbert ace Michelle Duncan to begin the game, stole second and third base, then scored when the throw to third bounced into the outfield.
Behind a couple defensive gems from Nicole Upshaw, Kohler was in control until the fifth, when Gilbert grounded its way into a couple infield hits. Lexi Nelson bounced another up the middle and all were safe on a fielder's choice that scored Crystal Garcia to tie the score.
"I thought both teams played well, but we didn't hit very well," Huskies coach Keith Householder said.
Despite the early run allowed and some control struggles, Duncan and the defense got stronger in the middle innings, but after Stankiewicz' home run gave Gilbert the slim lead, it got tense in the Huskies' final at-bat.
Aliza Benitez reached on a fielder's choice, but Beuther followed with a line shot that shortstop Elysia Mesa dove to her left and snared inches off the ground. It saved at least two bases and possibly prevented the Benitez from scoring.
"Unbelievable play," said Gilbert coach Shaundra Gutierrez, a sentient shared by Householder.
Kelsey Anderson drew a walk to put runners on first and second with two outs, but Duncan got a ground ball to end the game.
Koehler had two of Hamilton's three hits and the two pitchers matched each other for two hours until Stankiewicz' final swing.
"We've done some things this season we haven't done before here," said Householder, whose team reached the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and made it to the final eight for the first time in school history. "If you told 99 percent of (5A-I) coaches at the beginning we'd be here, I think they would have laughed. We're hoping this is a start to building a tradition."