WARSAW - Dover softball head coach Jen Pfeiffer told her players to relish the moment as they headed into the bottom of the eighth inning of Tuesday's Division II district championship game with Indian Creek tied 1-1.
"I came into the dugout and said, 'This is great,' said Pfeiffer. "This is why we play the game. You never know what's going to happen, but its always more fun when you win."
One inning later, sophomore Kelsey Brass smashed an RBI single to rightfield to lift Dover to a 2-1, nine-inning win and the district title over Indian Creek for a second consecutive season at River View High.
While Brass was the offensive hero, senior Maggie Murphy starred in the pitcher's circle as she scattered three hits and fanned a career-high 18 batters.
Indian Creek head coach Angela Penner said it was hard-fought game by both clubs.
"It was a great game," said Penner, whose team ended up 18-4. "I'm so proud of my kids. This was a game that could have gone either way. Both pitchers were outstanding.
"We had a hard time hitting her (Murphy), but we battled and battled. We knew something had to happen either way.
"She had us off-balance the whole game. We knew going in that Maggie was going to be tough because we had a hard time with her last year."
The Tornadoes improved to 24-5 and will face either Columbus DeSales or Licking Valley in the regional semifinals at Pickerington on May 30 at 5 p.m.
It's Dover eighth trip to the Sweet 16.
"We're moving on," said Pfeiffer, whose Tornadoes knocked off Indian Creek 6-1 in the district final last season at Bill Rice Field. "They have a good program. We didn't come into this contest lightly."
With the game tied 1-1 in the ninth, Murphy got things started with a one-out single and was lifted for senior courtesy runner Emily Polce.
Junior Juila Jennings moved her to second on a ground out, setting the stage for Brass.
"I was thinking I'm going to get this hit and we're going to go home," said Brass. "Most of her pitches were low and outside and I don't normally hit outside pitches well, but it (the pitch) was down the middle so I got a little lucky."
Meanwhile, Murphy dominated with as she struck out 18 and walked just one in nine innings of work.
"I don't feel it right now, but I'll feel it in the morning," said Murphy about her effort. "I was really relaxed out there. Since one of our captains was out, I felt I had to step up and lead the group."
Murphy, who will be playing in the regional for the third time in four years, is happy to be going back to Pickerington again.
"I'm happy to be part of it," said Murphy. "I'm pleased we're going again."
Indian Creek's Paige Geanangel allowed just four hits, while striking out eight and walking two.
"I thought she pitched just as well as Maggie did," said Penner. "I'm proud of the kids. We were competitive and played really hard today."
Indian Creek drew first blood in the top of the sixth on Geanangel's RBI single for a 1-0 lead.
But Dover evened things in the bottom of the sixth when senior Miranda Dessecker hit a one-out triple and eventually scored on a throwing error as the Redskins were trying to pick her off third.
Junior Taylor Mathews had the fourth hit for the Tornadoes with a single, while Paige DeMattio and Alexis Monroe also had singles for the Redskins.
"We are losing Brey Mays, Paige DeMattio and Megan Markja," said Penner. "They were true senior leaders from the get-go."