EAST PEORIA — How quickly a game can change.
For the Minooka Indians, that change made all the difference.
Trailing York by a run with one out in the sixth inning, center fielder Jordyn Larsen put her stamp on the IHSA Class 4A semifinal game with the the Dukes by blasting a three-run homer. It marked the final of several swings of momentum in the game and meant the Indians would playing in Saturday’s championship game after a 6-3 victory.
“I’ve never had a bigger hit than that,” Larsen said. “It was amazing.”
The blast over the right-centerfield fence was preceded by a walk to Makayla Melone and a single by Kelli Holstine.
“It was an outside pitch. I was up on the plate and it was a first-pitch strike on the outside,” Larsen said. “Yeah, I could tell by the sound off the bat that it was gone.”
Minooka coach Mark Brown said he knew it was gone right away, too.
“Once it let the bat, I checked the outfielders and knew it was gone. It’s another big hit by Jordyn,” Brown said.
Minooka tacked on one more run in the inning after a double by Rachel May and an RBI single by Marissa Burns. It capped a day that started well enough, but needed that late boost.
In the top of the first inning, Minooka catcher Kelsey Smith hit a two-run homer off of losing pitcher Brooke Bandy.
It came after two outs and with Burns on base (hit batter).
“The first one, I was up there thinking base hit. I was wanting to get one for my grandpa who died last year,” Smith said. “And Jordyn’s was just clutch. That was great. Pretty much after that, everyone on the team knew we had it.”
Brown said that the quick start was nice but that he also couldn’t wait to see the team get the bats going again after that.
“Kelsey’s been putting them out all year. It was a hit and run and she jumped on it,” Brown said. “We jumped on them early but then took some time to come back. It was good to see the bats come alive in the sixth.”
The other major swing moment came after two unearned runs in the first off of Indians starter Jackie Lilek and an earned run in the second. Trailing 3-2, Brown made the decision to bring in Sara Novak to replace Lilek.
“It wasn’t part of the game plan, but with Jackie struggling the move was made,” Brown said. “After (Novak) warmed up in the second inning, she came in with that look in her eye and said she was ready. I didn’t even hesitate.”
Novak got the win in relief. She allowed two hits and one walk while striking out nine, including striking out the first four batters she faced.
“A lot of it was adrenaline,” Novak said. “I came in and was trying to work ahead and mix up my speeds and move the ball around. I didn’t want to give up any free passes. It worked out.”
So well that the Indians are playing for a championship at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday against St. Charles East.