EAST PEORIA -- St. Charles East knew it was facing a team capable of incredible raw power this weekend.
The Saints just didn't know it would be Saturday.
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A day after its stunning walk-off win over No. 1-ranked Barrington, St. Charles East simply ran into a Minooka buzz saw. The Indians banged out a championship-game record 14 runs and 19 hits and slugged 3 homers. Rachel May's walk-off 3-run shot in the sixth inning capped off a 14-3 Minooka run-rule win in the Class 4A final at Eastside Centre.
"We had a run, it just ran out today," Saints coach Kelly Horan said. "That team was hitting everything."
On Friday Saints pitcher Haley Beno held a Barrington team with 54 homers on the year to 5 measly singles, allowing her team to rally for a 3-2 win.
There was no holding back Minooka.
Wisconsin-bound senior Sara Novak hit a 2-run homer in the fourth, part of a 4-for-4 day, and No. 9 hitter Jordyn Larsen homered for the second straight day after going deep just once prior to the weekend. The Indians tallied 10 of their runs from the fourth inning on.
"State championship game, you think you're going to come out and it's going to be a close game. But everybody just came out and hit," said Novak, who also threw four hitless innings of relief with 4 strikeouts. "She wasn't a bad pitcher. Everything she threw at us, we put a good swing on."
In a Class 4A playoffs that defied explanation at times with all the upsets, Minooka's story took the cake.
The Indians (23-8) were on the verge of being run-ruled by Lockport in a sectional semifinal, rallying for a 15-14 win. Then they went out and won it all by run-rule, in the program's first state appearance.
"We knew we could put a lot of runs on the board in a hurry," Novak said. "Lockport game proved that."
St. Charles East (33-6), unbeaten since April 3 against teams not named St. Charles North, came into Saturday riding a wave of momentum. Olivia Lorenzini's walk-off 2-run double capped a 3-run rally to beat Barrington. Lorenzini was still walking on air the next day.
"I was watching it online this morning," Lorenzini said. "It still hadn't hit me."
The Saints answered Minooka's 3-run first with 3 of their own in the top of the second. Sarah Collalti tripled in Katie Kolb and Alex Latoria, and Lexi Perez singled in a third run. Novak singled in a go-ahead run in Minooka's half of the second, then took the mound and slammed the door shut on any Saints comeback hopes.
Even a few of Minooka's outs were of the ringing variety, Saints outfielders tracking them down well. In the fifth Kolb laid out for a ball in left-center.
Horan and Lorenzini both kept the loss in the perspective of an amazing run to East Peoria.
After a 3-3 start, the Saints won 30 of their next 32 games, the best season in program history. And they did it with just three seniors.
Horan said her team's success started with the senior threesome of Lorenzini, Perez and catcher Shelby Holtz.
"I had a lot of young kids not play like young kids," Horan said, "but I can't thank my seniors enough. It took all four of their years to get here. It's because they believed in the program, and believed in me. It's the best group of seniors I could ever ask for."
Lorenzini, too, was keeping her head up.
"I could not ask for my senior year to end any other way," Lorenzini said. "I don't care if we got first, second, third or fourth. Just being here was a blessing."
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