LOCKPORT – Lockport's softball team looked for a complete turnaround from its previous day's performance when it played host to Minooka on Wednesday.
That didn't figure to be an easy task considering the defending Class 4A state champions had been hitting the ball well and were riding a four-game winning streak.
But the Porters got what they were looking for, and more. Beside receiving a shutout from sophomore pitcher Justine Cielenski, the hosts also got timely hitting and good defensive play, which helped them claim a 4-0 nonconference victory over the Indians.
"I think that it was important for us to have a game like this against a good Minooka team," said Porters coach Marissa Chovanec, whose team fell 10-2 to Lincoln-Way West on Tuesday. "It shows the girls what they can do and what they need to do every day and that they are capable of doing it.
"Justine and [catcher] Sarah [DeMasi] did a really good job of moving the ball around. The sun was really tough, but our right fielder, Sara Koniewicz, came up with some tough catches. And Haylie and Jordan Arndt both made some nice plays in the infield."
The game was quite a contrast from the teams' meetings a year ago, when Minooka won a pair of one-run decisions in high-scoring affairs, including 15-14 in the sectional.
The Porters (4-2) scored solo runs in their first two at-bats and then added their final two tallies in the third inning, the same frame in which the Indians (6-4) had their best chance to score during the contest.
Minooka loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third inning, but Cielenski got out of the jam by recording consecutive strikeouts.
After giving up three hits through the initial three innings, Cielenski didn't yield another hit and only allowed two baserunners after that, with both being hit by pitches.
"My catcher is really good at calling pitches and she really knows what she's doing," Cielenski said of DeMasi. "The team played really well today, and I think that we were really hungry for this game. With the more games that we play, our team comes together even more so by the end of the year, I think that we'll be really good."
In the first, Gabby Voulgaris (2 for 2, two RBI) drove in Jordan Arndt with a sacrifice fly and an inning later, the Porters went up 2-0 when Haylie Arndt doubled in Halle Hollatz.
Minooka got singles from Alyssa Hajduk and Caty Bell before Marissa Burns was hit by a pitch to load the bases in the top of the third.
Lockport added two key insurance runs later that inning when Voulgaris singled in Kelly Pattison, and then came around to score on an infield hit by Sarah DeMasi.
After reliever Alexa Zito kept the Porters at bay during the next three innings, the Indians threatened again in the seventh when Geri Westerhoff reached third base but Cielenski recorded her seventh strikeout to preserve the shutout.
"We couldn't get our bats going, which was surprising since we've been hitting the ball pretty well," Indians coach Mark Brown said. "But give their pitcher credit since she shut us down. We put a couple of balls into play but just couldn't string them together.
"We've got four pitchers who didn't throw much last year at the varsity level, so we're still trying to figure out what we've got there, but I'm pretty satisfied with that so far."