NORMAL — Minooka had a scoreless drought reach 9 2/3 innings Monday, but once the runs came, as has been the case this postseason, they came in bunches.
Meanwhile, a 31-win Normal West team is still seeking its first run against the Indians at the Class 4A Illinois State University Softball Super-Sectional.
The Indians pounded West 8-0 at Marian Kneer Field to win their 20th game of the season and earn their first berth at the state final tournament. They will play Friday at 5:30 p.m. at East Peoria's Eastside Centre against York, which was an 8-1 winner over Sandburg in one of two 4A super-sectional games played in Rosemont.
"You can't expect eight runs. We've been swinging the bats so well that I wouldn't call it a surprise, but I didn't expect it," Minooka coach Mark Brown said. "Once Sara (Novak) hit that home run, we just erupted. We started hitting ball after ball hard. ... One through nine, we've been hitting the ball well, and that's why we're here."
Novak's home run came with one out and nobody one to break a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning. It also came one half-inning after West had loaded the bases with one out, only to watch Minooka starting pitcher Jackie Lilek escape unscathed.
Before Novak went deep, the Indians had not scored since there were two outs in the top of the first inning of their 4-2 sectional championship win Saturday over Plainfield Central. One inning later, they added three runs, and they scored two runs each in the final two innings.
"Hitting is contagious," Novak said. "It seems like once we get that one big hit, a lot of times a lot more will follow. I just had a feeling that once I hit that home run, we would start to score some runs. We have so many good hitters that it's tough to keep us down."
The key play in the Minooka fifth was a deep fly ball hit by Jordyn Larsen with one out that glanced off the glove of a sprinting West right fielder Ellie Sonetz. It was ruled an error, and MiKayla Melone scored on the play. Marissa Burns and Kelsey Smith later added two out, run-scoring singles.
The Indians had two outs and nobody on in their sixth when Kelli Holstine and Larsen, their Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, both singled. Rachel May then drove them both home with a double off the fence in left-center.
"I had kept fouling balls off, fouling balls off," May said, "so I said, 'All right. I'm going to get my pitch and hit it.' And I did. It was a pitch right down the middle, and I hit if to the fence."
Caroline Brown finished the scoring in the MInooka seventh with a two-run home run.
The support was more than enough for Lilek, who went five scoreless innings. She allowed two hits, walked one and struck out six. Novak pitched the final two innings.
"Definitely starting inside," Lilek said, when asked what was the key to her outing. "The ump had a good inside corner. I tried to hit that early in the court and then go away with the curve. ... I did not expect eight runs. We had heard some good scouting reports on (West). We expected it to be tough."