Joliet West makes statementJoliet West's starting pitcher #20 Katie McKay vs Lincoln-Way Central held at Central and Central won 6-3 on Monday, April 23, 2012. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:12PM
As a freshman on the combined Joliet Township 1996 softball team Heather Suca helped the Steelmen to their first regional title.
They went on to win the regionals in ’98, ’999, and 2000, with the ’98 team advancing to the state quarterfinals and the 2000 team wining the Class AA state crown.
Fast forward to 2012. As Joliet West coach, Suca again is part of history.
West stunned host Minooka 6-1 on Saturday to win the Class 4A regional title. It was the school’s first regional title since 1978.
“It’s been an up-and-down season,” Suca said, “but the last five games we’ve come together to play the way we should and could play.”
After going 11-22 in 2011, the Tigers won 10 of their first 15 games this year and opened SouthWest Suburban Blue play with a 9-2 pasting of defending league champ Sandburg. Wes then fell on hard times, losing eight of the next 10 before regrouping late in the season, winning five of their past seven.
“We play against very good competition in our conference,” said Suca, whose team finished 4-10 in the Blue. “We’ve hit the ball well all year.”
The Tigers have scored five or more runs 21 times this season, including the past nine games in a row. One game their offense wasn’t in gear was a 4-0 setback March 27 to Minooka. They turned the tables Saturday.
“I liked the way we came out against (Minooka ace Sara) Novak,” Suca said. “We had a good approach. The girls played their best and put it together.”
Karina Vargas had an RBI double and Bri Thompson followed with an RBI single to put West ahead 3-0 in the top of the third.
Minooka’s Lindsey Fenner smashed a homer with one out in the fourth to cut the lead to 3-1. The Tigers came back with three runs in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run hit from Tresa Fahrner, which chased Novak.
Joy Treasure (4 innings) and Katie McKay combined to limit the Indians to four hits.
Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Ottawa to take on defending state champion Moline at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We are getting that confidence that yes, we do deserve this,” Suca said.
Dwight falls short
For the second straight season, Dwight fell a game short of getting downstate. The Trojans lost Monday to Tuscola 2-1 in the Class 1A University of Illinois Supersectional in Champaign.
Sarah Butterfield drove in Dwight’s run with a double. The Trojans only managed two hits.