Wind chill factors were 41 degrees and gusts straight out of the north were up to 35 miles per hour. People wore parkas, hooded sweatshirts, winter coats and hats and huddled under sleeping bags and heavy blankets.
No, that doesn’t describe conditions at a late postseason football game in Illinois. That describes the climate for Thursday’s regional semifinal softball game in Crete.
On May 23.
Four days before Memorial Day.
While that made for less than ideal ball playing conditions, the Minooka softball team didn’t seem to mind. The Indians came out swinging and put away Joliet West by a 9-1 score. In the process, Minooka exacted some revenge over West — the team that eliminated the Indians in the regional a year ago.
One of the defining moments of the game came when Sara Novak led off the fourth inning by hitting an absolute frozen rope into those 34 mile per hour gusts against pitcher Joy Treasure. It short-hopped the base of the fence anyway and Novak had to settle for a 219-foot double.
“She squared that one up,” Minooka coach Mark Brown said. “On any other day, that one is gone.”
I would say looooong gone. It was crushed.
“I felt that it was square,” Novak said. “I think on another day without the wind blowing it would have been out.”
The spring weather has been mixed up all season. Traveling down to Normal Community to watch Morris play in its first-ever sectional soccer match on Tuesday, the weather was 80 and sunny. There was a breeze, but it was straight out of the south that day.
It should be pointed out that neither game’s outcome was dictated by the wind. In fact, it rarely does. More or less it just brings the psychological element into play. In the case of the Morris soccer team, it had the wind at its back in the first half and didn’t score. Meanwhile, Charleston was not only chewing up the clock in the first 40, it actually scored twice.
In the case of Minooka, the Indians jumped out to the early lead and then worked the wind factor to their advantage.
“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.”
Coming ready to perform helps. Let’s just hope that the spring and summer weather figures that out, too.
In the meantime, I’m going to get to continue to cover what has otherwise been an outstanding spring sports postseason.
All three of our girls soccer teams won a regional in the past 10 days. For Coal City and Morris, it was their first regional title ever. For Minooka it was the second ever for the Indians. That is great uncharted ground to watch get uncovered. Forget the fact that the three teams lost by a combined 13-0 in the semifinals of sectional play.
Morris is young, too. I like the Redskins chances of becoming the area’s first ever girls team to win a sectional game in the coming years.