LACROSSE — Kellie Marcheschi wasn’t alive yet during Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game,” but the Boone Grove pitcher had certainly heard of the legendary performance.
Now, Marcheschi has her own memorable performance following Wednesday’s Porter County Conference tournament championship.
Less than 24 hours after going to urgent care for flu-like symptoms, Marcheschi, who wears No. 23, hit a three-run home run in the first inning and was one out away from a no-hitter as the Wolves knocked off PCC round-robin champion Morgan Township 10-0 in six innings.
Marcheschi, who could barely talk after the game, finished with 11 strikeouts and carried a no-hitter deep into the sixth inning before Morgan Twp. counterpart Kelsie Lemmons hit a rocket up the middle the Cherokees’ only hit of the game. Marcheschi got Karlie Lemmons to fly out to end the game moments later.
“I was definitely pitching,” Marcheschi said when asked if there was a chance she might miss Wednesday’s title game. “Michael Jordan played some of his best games when he was sick. I’m repping (his number).”
The Wolves (11-5) had two on and one out in the first inning when Marcheschi stepped up to face Lemmons. One pitch later the game was 3-0 and Boone Grove coach Ron Saunders began to see his game plan take shape.
“We knew that we needed to put pressure on them early, Saunders said. “We thought if we could get to them early, and if Kellie could pitch the way we know she can, we’d be in good shape.”
“This is what we’re capable of,” Saunders later added.
Marcheschi blasted two home runs in Monday’s semifinal win over Washington Twp., and like Wednesday’s blast, both came on the first pitch of the at-bat.
The Wolves weren’t finished putting up crooked numbers as they added a pair of runs in the third and fifth innings before scoring three more in the sixth inning to take a 10-0 lead over Morgan Twp. The Cherokees (21-2), who swept the PCC with a 7-0 record, had given up just 11 runs during the round-robin portion of the season and had outscored tournament opponents 26-2.
“We wanted revenge from our earlier game against them,” Boone Grove senior Rachel Wilkening said.
Wilkening was 3-4 with two RBI and three runs scored on Wednesday. The senior was also named the PCC All-Conference team along with teammates Elise Richards and Marcheschi, who was voted the Player of the Year. LaCrosse senior Hope Klemz was named the PCC Mental Attitude Award winner.
The Wolves entered Wednesday’s title game as the underdogs, a rare position for a Boone Grove team that have been doing the hunting over the last several years as opposed to being the hunted.
“It’s definitely a different feeling,” Wilkening said. “You just have to do what you have to do to be successful. We have to carry up our focus and be determined.”
The Cherokees got the maximum five players allowed on the All-Conference team as Kelsie and Karlie Lemmons were joined by teammates Emmy Wells, Ashley Bolen and Esa Hill. Both Hill and Richards missed the title game with injuries.
South Central’s Faith Briggs finished as the runner-up to Marcheschi for the unofficial Player of the Year honors while Kouts’ Sadie Leatherman finished in the top five of voting.