One of the reoccurring questions I found myself asking on Tuesday after the first Lincoln-Way East Sectional semifinal game was, “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”
The question came after watching the Minooka softball team come back from a 13-4 deficit against Lockport and win 15-14.
I know my mind is not as sharp as it once was, but I do not believe that I have ever seen a girls game in which a team came back from nine runs down to win a game — let alone do it in a sectional game.
That’s the thing that made Tuesday's game so amazing.
I have seen two other games that did approach the one between the Indians and the Porters, though. The one that first came to mind was at the Morris Class AA Sectional in 2002 when the Redskins lost to the Porters 10-9. The other one that had similar significants was the Morris vs. Lockport postseason game in 1992 — a game won by Morris 1-0.
On Tuesday in a game played in a steady drizzle, Minooka and Lockport combined for 30 hits and 29 runs against five different pitchers. Jackie Lilek and Sara Novak pitched for the Indians and Carly Dundee, Emma Carter and Kalyn Putman pitched for the Porters. Dundee and Lilek were the starting pitchers and after being relieved, came back in and finished for their respective teams.
Minooka alone had 18 hits, three walks and one hit batsmen. Remarkably, Lockport did not commit and error. In fact, there was only one error total — that coming on the Indians right fielder in the first inning. From the other dugout, the Porters had 12 hits, drew four walks and had two batters get hit by pitches.
Lockport led 9-2 after two innings and 13-4 after four but it was then that Minooka apparently was just getting warmed up.
Lilek hit a grand slam in the fifth and then the Indians scored seven runs on seven hits in the sixth to take the lead for good.
As I mentioned, the game reminds me of two other games, though they were vastly different type contests. Both involved Lockport and Morris.
That game from 2002 turned out to be longtime Porters’ coach Barb Burk’s final win ever.
Burk retired with 685 wins after losing the sectional championship to Lincoln-Way East two days later.
Unlike the remarkably clean play in Frankfort on Tuesday, the Lockport v. Morris game in 2002 featured 18 hits and a whopping 10 errors according to the Morris Daily Herald box score. That game was also a back and forth game. The Redskins, then coached by Denny Steele, led 2-0, fell behind 5-2, took a 9-5 lead and then watched as Lockport scored the final five runs to secure the win. One of the may highlights on the day was the now legendary Sam Findlay hitting a home run for the Porters against Morris pitcher Jenna Smart.
The playoff game between Morris and Lockport in 1992 was much, much different. The was, of course, the year the Redskins won its one and only state title. That game against the Porters that day was so critical because John Mackinson’s team couldn’t seem to get past that Porters’ hump in the postseason schedule.
The scoring recap is about as easy as it gets. Joy Battersby pitched a shutout and Erin Hickey hit an inside-the-park bunt home run. Actually it was a hit and a three-base throwing error on the Lockport third baseman, but it sounds better the other way. No matter how you slice it, that was the biggest postseason game for the Redskins that year basically until the championship game against Moline.
Minooka is hoping that Tuesday’s game proves to have a similar slingshot effect.
“We feel that we can make it all the way down to State now,” Lilek said after Tuesday’s victory. “We feel that this was the big one for us to get past.”
I have seen it before.