Class 4A softball: Gracie Anderson powers Minooka past Normal Community

Indians breeze into regional title game

Minooka’s Gracie Anderson celebrates as she heads to the plate after her two run home run against Normal in the Class 4A sectional semifinal on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in Minooka.

MINOOKA – A strong wind Tuesday blew up several dust clouds that caused play to stop during Minooka’s Class 4A Minooka Regional semifinal game against Normal Community.

It didn’t seem to affect Gracie Anderson, however.

Anderson went 3 for 3 with a pair of two-run homers to lead the Indians (28-3-1) to an 11-1, five-inning win over the Ironmen. After singling in the first inning, she hit an opposite-field homer to left in the third, then slammed a two-run shot to right center in the fourth.

The win advances the Indians to regional championship at 4:30 p.m. Friday where they will play the winner of the semifinal game between Rock Island and Normal West.

“I saw the ball pretty well today,” Anderson said. “The first home run was actually on an inside pitch. I just kept my hands inside the ball like [Minooka coach Mark] Brown tells us to do.

“I have done a lot better this year of not letting things get into my head if I have a bad day or a bad at-bat. I try to have a short memory, go up to the plate and do what I know how to do.”

The two home runs bring Anderson’s season total to 11, one shy of the school record set by Sara Novak in 2012.

Normal Community got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second inning. With one out, Maggie Kelley singled. An out later, Hayley Michels ripped a double to right, scoring Kelley from first for a 1-0 lead.

That was the last of the scoring for the Ironmen, however, as Minooka starter Taylor Mackin was able to shut them down over the final three innings, allowing only one baserunner. Mackin finished with a four-hitter, striking out five.

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Minooka tied the game in the bottom of the second when Mayson Carr delivered an RBI fielder’s choice with the bases loaded, scoring Addison Krumly.

The Indians broke it open in the third.

Mackin (2 for 2) led off with a single off the third baseman’s glove before Anderson inside-outed a pitch. The ball got caught in the jet stream blowing out to left and carried over the fence for a home run and a 3-1 lead. One out later, Karli McMillin singled, and after another out Sophia Dziuba walked and Jaelle Hamilton sent a no-doubt-about-it home run over the fence to left to put Minooka ahead 6-1.

In the fourth, with one out, Mackin singled and Anderson roped a 2-2 pitch over the fence to right-center for an 8-1 lead. Krumly led off the bottom of the fifth by reaching on an error. An out later, Hamilton singled. Carr followed with a double to left-center to score Krumly, and Peyton Psinas ended it with a single through the middle that scored Hamilton and Carr to make it 11-1, invoking the 10-run rule.

Minooka’s Sofia Dziuba calls time as a gust of wind creates a dust storm during the against Normal in the Class 4A sectional semifinal on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in Minooka.

“Just like all season our offense was relentless,” Brown said. “From one through nine in the lineup, you never know who is going to come through. It seems like it’s someone different every game. When you have a lineup like that you can be pretty confident that someone is going to get the job done and we are going to get some runs.

“If we get a few runs, we feel really good having Taylor on the mound. She is a bulldog. She goes out there and pounds the strike zone and the defense makes the plays behind her. I thought Mayson Carr did a nice job in right today. With the sun shining and the wind blowing, that’s a hard place to play, but she did a good job out there. I also can’t say enough about Gracie Anderson. She is a good hitter that can also hit home runs. She is not just a home run hitter. That single in the first inning when she had two strikes and just poked it the other way for a single. She doesn’t try to do too much, but when she gets her pitch she knows what to do with it.”