Minooka picked up where it left off last season.
Despite graduating six starters from last season’s Class 4A state championship team, the Indians didn’t miss a beat in cruising to a 4-1 victory over Lincoln-Way East on Monday afternoon in the season opener for both teams in Frankfort.
The game was a rematch of last season’s Crete-Monee Regional title game, which Minooka won 3-1. Dating back to last season, the Indians have now won 10 in a row.
Meghan Quirk went the distance in the circle, and one of the returners — senior center fielder Jordyn Larsen, had a two-run single to highlight a three-run first inning.
“We definitely couldn’t wait to get out and play,” Larsen said. “We’ve got a lot of new people, but this [Lincoln-Way East] was one of the teams we defeated last year and we wanted to come out and show them we’re still a good team.”
Alyssa Hajduk (2-for-2, walk, sac) and Marissa Burns (2-for-4) led off the game with back-to-back singles. After moving up on a passed ball, they both scored when Larsen laced a liner to left. Larsen later scored when Geri Westerhoff (2-for-4) hammered an RBI single to right.
“It definitely felt good and was good that I didn’t get off to a rough start again like last year,” Larsen said. “No one is thinking that we’re going to win state again. We just want to play them one at a time and not put any pressure on ourselves.”
Quirk was in control, allowing one earned run on six hits while walking two and striking out two. The senior right-hander helped her cause by drilling a home run down the left-field line with two outs in the third for a 4-0 lead.
“I wasn’t going up expecting to hit a home run,” Quirk said. “But I got my nerves out and it just happened.
“I’ve respectively waited my turn [to pitch as a senior] and worked hard in the offseason. I’ve learned to control my nerves more and had an awesome defense behind me.”
Each team made an error in the first inning, but none after that. The Indians, who had nine hits off a pair of pitchers, snagged everything in sight — including throwing a runner out at home in the sixth and converting a line drive into a double play in the seventh.
The Griffins scored their run in the sixth. Olivia Prieto reached on a bunt single and later scored when Jenny Van Geertry (3-for-3) poked a first-pitch RBI single to right.
“It feels good to get out here and play,” Van Geertry said. “We just hit the ball hard at their players. we’re still expecting a good season.”