WINSLOW — Alexa Petrovic never saw her game-changing base hit as it made its journey up the middle, evading gloves and defenders as if the ball had its own set of eyes. Instead, she put her head down and barreled toward first base, much the way the Winslow softball team had in an effort to claw back from an early five-run deficit.

Petrovic’s two-run single in the bottom of the fifth handed the Black Raiders the lead for the first time all afternoon, and No. 7 Winslow held on for a 7-5 win over No. 10 Nokomis in a Class B North preliminary round game Tuesday afternoon at Laverdiere Field. The Black Raiders (12-5) advance to meet No. 2 Old Town on Thursday.

“That felt amazing,” Petrovic said of her go-ahead hit. “To hear it from the team and the crowd, it was the best feeling.”

“She’s had a quality season,” Winslow coach Steve Bodge said of Petrovic. “She’s done a nice job for us and hit at timely times. She’s been right there all year.”

Nokomis saw its season end at 9-8.

“They picked away at us and they did a good job,” Nokomis coach J.D. McLellan said. “That’s a good team.”

TURNING POINT: Trailing 5-2 heading to the bottom of the fifth, Winslow batted around in the inning and scored five runs.

Petrovic, a senior third baseman, pounded a pitch over the outside half of the plate back up the middle — just missing Nokomis pitcher Britney Bubar and a pair of middle infielders — before the ball slowed to a stop in the outfield grass. By the time it came to a rest, both Sarah Guimond and Paige Trask had come around to score for a 6-5 Winslow lead.

“It was traveling outside, and it’s not usually my pitch,” Petrovic said. “But I hit it, I closed my eyes and just ran down the first base line. I was hoping for the best.”

Petrovic stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored an insurance run on Nokomis shortstop Aren Herrick’s error with two outs.

“It was that one inning,” McLellan said. “We let the little hits get into us, and then the errors happened.”

After trailing 5-0 through an inning and a half, Winslow drew on its past experience. A roster featuring 10 seniors took a been-here, done-that approach to the latter half of Tuesday’s playoff.

“We had five innings left to hit. That’s a lot of outs they have to get,” Bodge said of the early deficit. “We put the ball in play, they made a few mistakes and gave us some opportunities. The key was not swinging at the first pitch every time.”

“It was just a matter of confidence,” Petrovic said of facing Bubar’s arsenal of off-speed pitches. “The experience comes behind it. Honestly, you have to know that you can do it.”

QUICK START: The first two innings for the Warriors couldn’t have gone any better. They collected five hits, scored five runs and pressured the Winslow defense with baserunners and bunting.

Nokomis was so efficient early, taking a 1-0 lead on just three pitches in on Alexis Allard’s sacrifice bunt.

In the middle innings, though, the offense began to fizzle against Winslow’s Trask. Trask worked in more off-speed stuff and limited Nokomis to just three hits over the final five innings.

“It just petered away,” McLellan said. “We should have done a little bit more bunting and running, but they started understanding our game and it was getting tough to do that.”

Trask adjusted in the circle.

“If we were tipping our pitches (early in the game), we stopped doing that. I don’t know if we were or not, but it seemed like they were ready for every pitch we threw,” Bodge said. “Maybe our adjustments on the plate were better. Maybe we were hitting our spots better.”

STAT LINE: Petrovic finished the day going 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored. She also started a key 5-4-3 double play to end the Nokomis third.

Senior catcher Cassie Demers was also 2 for 3 with an RBI for Winslow, and she made a sliding catch on Allard’s foul ball just in front of the backstop for the first out of the seventh inning. Trask similarly enjoyed a 2 for 3 day at the dish with a pair of runs scored.

For Nokomis, Austin Leighton was 3 for 3 with a double and an RBI.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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