Joliet West slides past Minooka after tying rally

JOLIET – All the Joliet West softball team needed to get in the win column, evidently, was to face the defending Class 4A state champion.

The Tigers ended the four-game losing streak on which they began the season, defeating Minooka, 4-3, Tuesday afternoon. A single by West No. 9 hitter Karina Vargas with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning drove in pinch-runner Lily Ongkiko with the winning run.

Down 3-1 in the top of the seventh, Minooka (1-1) had a rally of its own. With one out, Jordyn Larsen walked, went to second base on a wild pitch, moved up again on a Carolyn Brown single and came home on a Geri Westerhoff groundout. Meghan Quirk then lined a double into the gap in left-center field for her second RBI of the game, as pinch-runner Erin Rossetto easily scored the tying run.

“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I kept myself really relaxed, like any other at-bat,” Quirk said. “I was just going up there looking for a first-pitch strike. I went with the pitch she gave me, and it just kind of happened.”

Minooka left the bases loaded in the top of the third, which brought the number of stranded baserunners to 11 for the game to that point, but it also scratched across the game’s first run. West pitcher Joy Treasure walked the bases loaded, and Quirk hit a grounder into left field for a single that plated Alyssa Hajduk.

West answered with its three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Singles by Treasure and Alysia Rodriguez brought an end to Hajduk’s day on the mound.

With the runners at second and third and nobody out, West’s Kylie Robb put down a sacrifice bunt against Minooka reliever Alexa Zito. Treasure scored easily, and an errant throw on the play allowed Rodriguez to come home and Robb to end up at second base. Robb later scored on another Indians error.

The Minooka defense made six errors on the day, and its pitchers combined for seven walks. Minooka had an 8-6 advantage in hits.

“We didn’t quit. We didn’t give up,” Minooka coach Mark Brown said. “It was one bad inning: the third. We gave ‘em about five or six outs. We threw the ball around, and you can’t give a good team more than three outs in an inning. It came back to bite us. But there are some things to build on.”