By: Clark Shanahan
GALESBURG, Illinois - The Knox Prairie Fire softball team lost a marathon 5-4 nail biter against the Monmouth University Fighting Scots in the first game of their Friday doubleheader. The 18-inning game forced the second game of the doubleheader to get moved to Monday. Knox celebrated their seniors, Casey Hipp and Britney Salinas after the game.
The Fighting Scots struck first against Knox, putting two runs on the board in the top of the second inning. The Prairie Fire were able to even the score in the third, thanks to a two-run Maddie Poetzinger single. Poetzinger had a fantastic offensive game, going 5-8 and driving in an additional run in the eighth inning. That run was crucial, as it leveled the game again after Monmouth scored a run of their own in the eighth.
Leila Rouhani pitched her heart out this game, going all 18 innings and striking out six batters in a Herculean feat to set the Midwest Conference record for innings pitched in a game (previously 17 innings). Her pitching carried the team, and her performance was one of the best for Knox’s season. Even when the Fighting Scots scored a run in the top of the sixteenth, the Prairie Fire did not quit, and Tina Vargas spent long enough on the basepaths to allow Mimi Schweitzer to score the tying run. Unfortunately, a Monmouth sacrifice fly in the 18th inning would not be answered, and the Prairie Fire lost.
"This was one of the best games we have played this year or any of my years coaching. We just kept fighting," said head coach Erin Rutledge. "Leila pitched very well all game, but came up just short. It was a great game for senior day and extended their career to Monday, so they get to come back out to the field one more time."
Knox will host Monmouth on May 2 at 4:30 p.m. to conclude their season.