Monday's play-in game of the Class 4A New Trier softball regional between No. 17 seed Prospect and No. 16 Palatine featured 1 run through the first 3½ innings.
The next 3½ innings? How about 26 runs?
As if the two offenses were playing a 'can you top this?' game, the runs were coming at a frantic pace before the host Pirates crossed the plate nine times in the bottom of the sixth inning.
That proved to be the difference in Palatine's 16-11 triumph
The Pirates (10-24) move on to the semifinal at top-seeded New Trier (27-4-1) today at 4:30 p.m.
"Oh my God, that was almost a mini heart attack," said Pirates senior pitcher Jules Udoni, who ended up the winning pitcher while playing her last high school game on her home field. "I was about ready to cry because I felt so bad giving up those runs in the top of the sixth (3 runs, which gave Prospect a 10-7 lead)."
But the Pirates rallied with 9 runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 16-10 lead.
Udoni then gave up just 1 run unearned in the top of the seventh to notch the win.
"Jules is a competitor," said Pirates coach Jeff Manz. "When the game is on the line, no one will outwork her."
"It wasn't me," Udoni said. "My whole team was awesome. I couldn't have done anything without my teammates."
And she meant 'team' as Manz played 16 girls, including pitchers Erin Davis and Dominique Boisvert.
"Total team effort," he said. "Courtney English (No. 3 hitter) went out with an elbow injury (on a great catch to take a hit away from Cate Meersman in the second inning). So we lost her for the game.
"You can look up and down the lineup and you will see kids who contributed every where."
In the Pirates' decisive sixth inning, sophomore catcher Kenzie Craver (2-for-3) had an inning to remember, belting an RBI double and a 3-run triple for 4 RBI.
Sophomore shortstop Victoria Parrott clubbed a bases-loaded triple in the inning while Udoni chipped in a RBI single. Nora Walsh (3-for-5) also scored in the inning when Brooke Bauer reached on an error.
"I thought we did the little things really well," said Manz, who also received an all-out diving catch by Craver for the second out of the seventh inning. "We executed sacrifices. We hit to the right side with runners on base."
Jamie Haze's RBI single to right scored Grace Rohrwasser (2-for-5) with two outs to give Palatine a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Taking advantage of 3 walks, an error and sacrifice bunt by Udoni, the Pirates added 4 more runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 5-0 lead.
But Prospect answered with 7 runs in the top of the fifth, sparked by a 2-run double by Casey Lenski and 2-run singles by Rachel Trebswether and Delilah Malczewski.
The other run came home when Angela Roman reached on an error.
Parrott (2-for-3) tied the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the fifth with a 2-run single to center scoring Craver and Shannon Surell.
"Give Prospect a lot of credit," Manz said. "They were down 5 runs and never quit. I was really impressed with both teams' attitudes and efforts. Prospect didn't quit. We didn't quit. That's how you want a softball game."
Prospect came back to take a 10-7 lead in the top of the sixth, getting 3 runs with two outs on a 2-run single by Roman down the left field line and a single to right by catcher Emma Gilhooly.
Then came the Pirates' 9-run half of the inning.
"Jeff (Manz) and I talked after the game about how neither team would quit," said Prospect coach Jim Adair. "There were a lot of times where we could have said we're done, but we battled back. We just couldn't battle back from the 9-run sixth inning. That was a killer. You can't have that."
Multiple hitters for the Knights (7-22) were Lenski (3-for-5, 2 doubles), Maggie Pancini (2-for-5), Meghan Doyle (2-for-4) and Malczewski (2-for-3).
Starter Lenski, Jen Krengiel and Malczewski all saw time on the pitcher's mound for Prospect.
Doyle and Emma Riordan are the only graduating players for Adair.
"The kids played hard," the coach said. "We've still got a long way to go but we'll get there.
"I just feel bad for the seniors. Meghan Doyle battle back from a broken ankle and Emma missed only one softball-related event in four years. Whatever the function was for the team, she'd be there."