Softball: Farkas’ big day leads Joliet West past Joliet Central

Joliet West’s Mackenzie Farkes connects for a RBI double against Joliet Central on Monday, May 6, 2024.

JOLIET – By her own admission, Mackenzie Farkas is one of the smaller players on the Joliet West roster.

“My driver’s license says I am 5-1,” she said. “I am really 5-foot even.”

Farkas’ stature had little to do with her performance Monday in a 21-0, four-inning Southwest Prairie Conference win over District 204 rival Joliet Central. Hitting eighth in the Tigers’ lineup, Farkas went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a triple and four RBIs to go along with three runs scored as West (14-10, 7-5 SPC) broke the game open with an eight-run second inning, in which Farkas had an RBI double.

“I saw the ball well today,” Farkas said. “You’ve got to have confidence. We are a very powerful team, and I have confidence in myself being part of that team. I’ve never had a game quite like this. I am one of the smaller people on the team, so for me to have three extra-base hits is pretty extraordinary.

“Usually, my job is to get on base to flip the order and get the top up with runners on. Everyone was on base today, so I got to hit with runners on, which was nice.”

The Tigers got on the board with a run in the top of the first when Hope Hughes hit a sacrifice fly to score Shelby Fraser, who had tripled.

Joliet West’s Shelby Fraser drives in two runs against Joliet Central on Monday, May 6, 2024.

West’s defense had a highlight in the bottom of the first, turning a 6-4-3 double play before the offense got rolling in the top of the second.

With one out, Caitlynn Baranak was hit by a pitch and winning pitcher Laci Cole singled to right, sending Baranak to third. Farkas followed with an RBI double, scoring Baranak. A walk to Jessica Cole loaded the bases before Avery Houlihan walked to score Laci Cole. Fraser followed with a single to right, scoring Farkas and Jessica Cole. A walk to Hughes loaded the bases, and Schwall ripped a single through the middle to score Houlihan and Fraser. Ella Featherston singled to right, chasing home Hughes before an error on a ball hit by Baranak allowed Schwall to score for a 9-0 lead.

The Tigers turned another double play in the bottom of the second, then tacked on two more runs in the third on an RBI triple by Houlihan (2 for 4, 3 RBIs), who scored on a wild pitch.

West exploded for 10 in the top of the fourth, highlighted by an RBI triple and a two-run double by Farkas. By the end of the day, every starter in the West lineup had at least one RBI.

Joliet Central’s Haydn Voss locks in on a pitch against Joliet West on Monday, May 6, 2024.

“It’s nice to know that my teammates are going to hit and score,” Laci Cole said. “I can just go out and throw strikes and let our defense work.

“Our team has great energy all the time. We have been coming closer together and bonding as a team.”

Central broke up Cole’s bid for a no-hitter in the bottom of the fourth when Haydn Voss singled to lead off. Cole allowed only the one hit while striking out five and walking two.

“We have times, like the first inning, when we look pretty good,” Central coach Jonathan Rashid said. “Then we have innings where we give up walks, hits and errors in bunches. But we are getting better.

“These girls are good girls. They work hard, they play hard, they show up every day and put in the work. When we can avoid the walks, errors and hits coming all at once, we can stay in these games. We only lost to Oswego, which is second in the conference, 7-0, and we held Minooka, who is leading the conference, to four or five runs through the first five innings. We’ve shown we can do it. Now we need to do it consistently.”