BURLESON -- A year ago, West's Kelsey Hoelscher didn't get to play at the Class 3A state softball tournament because of a thumb injury.
The junior right fielder's thumb seemed just fine in her third at-bat Saturday afternoon.
With the game tied 1-1, Hoelscher belted a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 5-1 lead, and the Trojans held on for a 5-4 victory over Kennedale in Game 2 of a best-of-three Class 3A Region I final at Centennial High School.
West's victory coupled with Friday's 5-1 victory in Game 1 sends West back to the state tournament for the third consecutive year. The Trojans lost 1-0 to Paris North in 2010 and 5-2 to Celina last year.
"Honestly I was looking to hit anything," Hoelscher said. "I was kind of down because I struck out in my last at-bat. I saw it was coming down the middle, and I knew it was my pitch."
The Trojans (29-9) defeated District 8-3A rival Kennedale (26-13) four times this season.
"We battled back in the end," Kennedale coach Amie Kirkpatrick said. "The girls did what I knew they would do, they fought back. They put the ball in play."
Kennedale took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Jazlyn Crowder reached on a fielder's choice and scored on an error. Wildcats starter Kaitlyn Leeds protected the lead until the sixth.
West loaded the bases in the sixth on back-to-back singles and fielder's choice. With one out, Mackenzie Werner drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game. After Leeds got a popout, Hoelscher delivered the big blast.
The Wildcats rallied in the seventh when Aubrey Wooden reached on an error and Maegan Garza singled to right. With one out, Allie Turner brought home Wooden with a sacrifice fly.
Mackenzie Bay followed with an RBI single and Crowder doubled home Bay, cutting the lead to 5-4.
West intentionally walked clean-up hitter Amber Sather, before Kayla Jones grounded out.
"Kayla struggled a bit today, but she hit the ball hard and that could have gone either way," Kirkpatrick said. "It's just one of those things. We have lost a lot of close games. We are really young and that's a good thing. We will learn from situations like this. We have tons to build on for next year."
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