CRETE — Minooka softball team has a long memory. Moments after beating Joliet West by an 9-1 score at the Class 4A Crete-Monee Regional, memories of last year’s regional loss to the Tigers came to the forefront.
“This means the world. We’ve been working for a while now and we wanted to get it,” Minooka junior Marissa Burns said. “It’s even more special because we lost to them last year.”
Last year the Tigers won 4-1.
“Last year they ended our season and by the luck of the draw we got West again this year,” Minooka coach Mark Brown said.
The Indians came out of the gate as strong as the 34-mile per hour wind gusts straight out of the north on Thursday. In similar fashion to the winds blowing straight in from left-center, the locals found all different ways to get players in this time around against West.
Minooka took advantage of a wild pitch to get the first run of the game and then a two-out bases loaded bunt by Burns plated Jackie Lilek (double) in the second. The locals then scored three in the third when Kelsey Smith doubled, Caroline Brown walked and after a sacrifice bunt, both scored when Mikayla Melone doubled. One out later, Jordyn Larsen drove in the third run with an RBI single.
“The girls came out on fire,” Brown said. “We wanted to come right out and jump on (pitcher Joy) Treasure right away … it was huge for us to score early. We scored early and often.”
In the fourth, Sara Novak doubled after one-hopping the center field fence and, after a single by Smith, Novak scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-0 at the time.
“I think we hit a lot of balls hard but the wind knocked a lot of them down,” Novak said. “I thought we looked good even with the wind. The offense came ready today.”
Minooka got two runs in the fifth when Rachel May walked, Burns reached on an error and Novak had a two-RBI single. The final run came in the seventh when Erin Lewis, Rachel May and Burns singled in succession and Novak hit a sacrifice fly.
Brown said that his team didn’t let the howling, chilly winds get to them.
“Getting off the bus we saw those flags flying in and that’s not good because we’re a power hitting team,” he said. “But the girls didn’t let that effect them. Plus we knew that the game would come down to defense and we played very good defense today.”
Inside the circle, Lilek garnered the win, though Novak came on to finish the game by going the final three innings.
“We had talked this past week about giving them a different look,” Novak said. “We wanted to change some things up.”
Minooka is now 17-8 on the season. The Indians will play Lincoln-Way East for the regional championship on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. East advanced by beating Crete-Monee by a 12-2 score.