TOLONO — Lacy Pruitt would have preferred a different pitch.
"It was almost on the ground," the Unity High School sophomore said. "It was hard to bunt."
Not swinging at the pitch, however, was not an option.
Perched on third base in the bottom of the seventh inning, 60 feet away, was the winning run, and Rockets softball coach Dave Ellars was willing to gamble on a play the team hadn't used all season.
"We had a couple of other opportunities where we could have squeezed," Ellars said, "but I didn't feel the situation was right."
With Pruitt — the team's second-leading hitter — at the plate, the call was made at the end of the team's 25th game.
"It was a game we needed to win," Ellars said, "and I didn't want to go extra innings."
Pruitt made certain the Okaw Valley Conference contest ended in regulation. Her one-out, walkoff bunt rolled inches in front of the plate, and freshman Madi Clark scampered home from third base with the decisive run before Clinton's defense could react in Unity's 5-4 triumph Tuesday.
Clark scored three of the Rockets' five runs.
"I feel pretty strongly that I can usually get the bunt down," Pruitt said. "We wanted to put the pressure on them to make a play."
The win was the third in five days in which Unity (15-10) scored the decisive run in its final at-bat.
"It's almost a hit-and-run," Ellars said. "I feel they focus more when that is called."
The fact the pitch from left-hander Bailey Walker (15-8) wasn't ideal didn't matter to Ellars.
"We work on bunting everything, even if it's rolling," he said.
Pruitt and Clark were the Rockets who finished with two hits.
For the third consecutive game, sophomore right-hander Shelby Routh (3-1) pitched a complete game for Unity. Her workload has increased since freshman Jessica Adams was sidelined with a pulled groin muscle last week.
"Routh has been outstanding these last three games," Ellars said.
Routh struck out one batter — the first one she faced — on three pitches and yielded seven hits. Just two of the runs she allowed were earned.
A Unity program that has struggled in recent years — with 21 combined wins the previous three seasons — is a youthful team this spring. First baseman Megan Swigart, whose two-run single in the fourth created a 3-3 tie, is the lone senior regular.
The starting lineup features four freshmen, three sophomores and two juniors, but Ellars never considered this to be a rebuilding year.
"I had them in seventh and eighth grade and knew the talent that was there," Ellars said. "My goal was 15 wins."
That goal was reached Tuesday.
"We're doing great," Clark said, "and we've improved a ton from the start of the season."
Besides Swigart, Ellars said the team's other four seniors deserve credit for their role in this season's turnaround.
"They don't play a lot, but they're our biggest cheerleaders in the dugout," he said. "They're great leaders."
The second, third and fourth batters in Clinton's lineup all finished with two hits. The Maroons' leaders were Morgan Hickman, Mackensie Hawes and Haley Toohill. Hickman scored twice, both on singles by Toohill.