PAYSON, Ill. -- The fact graduation loomed this weekend had the seniors on the Payson Seymour softball team in a relatively good mood.
It became a party mood Friday night.
For the first time since 2012, the Indians won a regional championship, getting a dominant pitching performance from Tori Schieferdecker and capitalizing on the ability to manufacture runs in a 6-2 victory over Western in the title game of the Class 1A Payson Regional.
"It means a lot, especially on our home field," Schieferdecker said. "It felt really good to bring that plaque back home."
That enhances the celebratory mood.
"Well, we took a lot of pictures," Schieferdecker said. "We are very excited to be able to celebrate that and graduation on the same weekend."
The Indians () advance to the semifinals of the Jacksonville Routt Sectional, where they will face Calhoun on Wednesday.
"We'll give them the weekend off, let them have some fun and celebrate the regional title," Payson coach Lisa Schwartz said. "We'll go back at it on Monday and make sure we're ready."
Payson and Calhoun were scheduled to meet during the regular season, but weather forced the game to be postponed.
"I think it will be a good test and a tough game," Schwartz said. "We want to see how far we can go."
If the Indians continue to play unselfish offensively, anything is possible.
Scoreless heading to the bottom of the third, Payson's Jairyn Hinthorne led off with a double and scored when Lauryn Hinthorne's bunt resulted in an error on the third baseman. Riley Epperson followed with a bunt that led to another error and another run. Schieferdecker helped herself by driving in Epperson with a single to center field.
"We did a really good of advancing the runners when we needed to and forcing them to make errors by putting the ball in play," Schieferdecker said.
It helped the Indians get comfortable, too.
After Schieferdecker led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, Kylie Simmons hit the first home run of her career with a two-run shot to center field. Schwartz had Simmons, a freshman, bunt in an earlier at-bat and it changed her entire approach.
"It's hard when you have a team with such good hitters to give up a hit sometimes to move a runner over or lay a bunt down," Schwartz said. "Sometimes all it takes is getting the ball in play to make something good happen."
A five-run lead was more than enough for Schieferdecker. She struck out 12, walked two and allowed just two hits.
"Our defense was really," Schieferdecker said. "We were able to make the plays and not let runners advance. Everybody did their job."
That's a reason to celebrate.
Class 1A Payson Regional
Payson Seymour 6, Western 2
Western 000 000 2--2 2 4
Payson 003 021 x--6 10 4
Flores and Hall; Schieferdecker and K. Burgess. WP--Schieferdecker. LP--Flores. 2B--Payson 2 (Epperson, J. Hinthorne).