SACO — Call it a hunch. A really good hunch.

After watching sophomore Sarah Casey in batting practice recently, Thornton Academy softball coach John Provost decided he wanted her in the starting line-up in his team’s playoff game despite the fact she had only one at-bat in a varsity game all season.

And Casey, in the line-up as the designated player, proved she belonged. Casey hit two home runs and drove in six runs to lead the third-ranked Trojans to a 14-2 victory over No.6 Massabesic on Thursday afternoon in a Class A South quarterfinal. The game was called in the bottom of the sixth inning because of softball’s 12-run rule.

The Trojans scored six runs in each of the third and fourth innings, with Casey hitting a two-run home run and a grand slam. “Those were my first two home runs ever,” said Casey.

“She had a breakout game today,” said Provost. “That was just gut. She had really been having last three or four days tremendous (batting practice). We had nothing to lose.”

Thornton (14-3) will play Portland in Saturday’s regional semifinals. Massabesic finished 12-6.

Massabesic led 1-0 entering the bottom of the third after Alyvia Cormier hit a home run. But the Trojans struck back with six runs. Jenica Botting had an RBI double, Hannah Collins drove in two with a single, Kaya O’Connor hit an RBI double and Casey capped it off with a no-doubt two-run home run well over the center field fence.

“I was just trying to be a team player today,” said Casey, who also had a double. “We really needed this win. I guess I was just hyped up.

“We’re all pitching in. I guess that’s what I was supposed to do today.”

After Massabesic got a run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Kyra-Mei Cartwright but Thornton’s Louisa Colucci struck out the final three batters to strand two. Then the Trojans put another six spot up in the bottom of the fourth. Kaitlin Verreault led off with a home run to left, Olivia Paradis hit a sacrifice fly and this time Casey hit a towering grand slam to center.

“It’s tough to match their bats,” said Kevin Tutt, the coach at Massabesic. “They put in a ton of time … They put the ball in play and if you make a mistake they’re going to make you pay for it.”

Meanwhile, Colucci allowed only two hits and struck out seven. She overcame some early adversity when she was called for seven illegal pitches in the first inning and another in the second.

“That would have been really easy to get rattled,” said Provost. “For a pitcher it would have been really easy to check out. But she hung in there and fixed it and finished strong.”

Provost had actually informed the umpires about Colucci’s motion – which sometimes includes a little crow-hop – before the game because she had been called for illegal pitches earlier in the season and he knew it might come up again. Colucci knew she had to fix it. “It’s always tough when that happens and I just have to focus on dragging my foot,” she said, “even though I think I’m dragging my foot … So my coaches told me to battle through it and keep on doing what I’m doing.”