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Minooka tops Morris in softball

If there was ever going to be a trap game for the Minooka softball team, Friday's non-conference clash with Morris was it. The Indians had played Southwest Prairie Conference games with Plainfield East on Wednesday and Plainfield Central on Thursday. Add to that the fact that Minooka's prom is Saturday and it would be easy to understand if the Indians were looking past the Redskins.

Jackie Lilek made sure they weren't.

Lilek was in total control from the start and fired a two-hitter with eight strikeouts. Only one Morris runner reached third base as Minooka improved to 18-5 with a 6-0 win.

"My curve was my best pitch today," said Lilek, who walked one and hit a batter. She allowed just a bunt single to Tori Hanford in the third inning and a bloop single to center by Laney Torkelson in the seventh. "My best inning is usually the third because by then I have gotten used to the umpire's strike zone and I have faced their hitters once and have seen their weaknesses."

Lilek walked Morgan Akre with two outs in the first, then struck out the side in the second. Hanford got her bunt single with two outs in the third, but Lilek ended the inning with a strikeout.

Meanwhile, Morris pitcher Erica Gualandi was matching her nearly pitch-for-pitch. Minooka's Kelly Holstine led off the game with a single, but she was erased when she was running on the pitch and Jordyn Larsen popped to Hanford behind the plate. Holstine, already at second base, was doubled off. Gualandi retired the next five Minooka hitters before Aly Bagley singled with one out in the third. A grounder back to the mound moved Bagley to second before Holstine singled to center to plate Bagley for a 1-0 lead. Holstine then stole second before Larsen grounded a ball up the middle. Morris shortstop Leah Lines saved a run by making a diving stop and Gualandi got out of the inning by inducing a pop out.

With one out in the fifth, Bagley doubled to left and then stole third. A fly to right wasn't deep enough to score her, and Morris coach Jennifer Lowery summoned Morgan Akre to face Holstine, who was 2-for-2 against Gualandi. Akre's first pitch was in the dirt and got past Hanford, allowing Bagley to score for a 2-0 Minooka lead.

"The bottom of the order really came through today," Lilek said. "Everyone up and down our lineup can hit, so if the top isn't hitting, the girls at the bottom can get the job done, too."

Minooka broke it open in the seventh. With two outs and Meghan Quirk on second, Holstine hit an infield single to put runners on first and third. Larsen followed with a triple to right that scored Quirk and Holstine, and came home when the relay throw got away at third. Lindsey Fenner then singled to center and Sara Novak singled to right. Novak's hit got past the right fielder, allowing Fenner to score the final run.

"Our girls played great," said Lowery, whose team fell to 12-13. "Right up until there were two outs in the seventh inning. Then it was like dominoes. One thing went wrong, then another.
"We knew coming in that she (Lilek) was a good pitcher. We cranked the pitching machine up in practice, but she did a good job of keeping us off balance."

Torkelson led off the seventh with a single, but was erased on a double play. Lilek finished the shutout by getting a popup to second.

"Jackie was great," Minooka coach Mark Brown said. "I was a little worried after two tough conference games and prom tomorrow that we might not play well. But Jackie pitched well and Aly Bagley did a great job at the plate.

"With her and Marissa Burns, we have a nice platoon at second and whoever plays that day gets the job done."

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