TINLEY PARK – Joliet West freshman pitcher Kiley Robb was well aware of what she was facing in Tuesday's Class 4A Andrew Sectional semifinal.
Plainfield Central has proven time and again that it can hit the ball and is not afraid to come from behind.
Robb finally was able to breathe a genuine sigh of relief when junior right fielder Lorelei Tokarczyk lofted a grand slam home run over the center-field fence in the bottom of the fourth inning to extend West's lead to 10-1.
The Tigers went on to win 11-1 as Tokarczyk, fittingly, delivered a walkoff single through a drawn-in infield with one out in the sixth inning.
It sets up a 10 a.m. Saturday battle for the sectional title against a SouthWest Suburban Blue adversary, either Lockport or Lincoln-Way East. Those two meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the other semifinal.
"I was on base when Lorelei hit the grand slam," said Robb, who notched three of West's nine hits. "I was very excited to be backed up with all those runs.
"They are a tough team, a very good hitting team. I had to keep hitting corners and I knew we could make it work."
Tigers coach Heather Suca was not as comfortable.
"I'm never confident until the game is over," she said. "[Central] scored seven runs in the sixth to come back and beat Plainfield South the other day."
Central (22-14), which split two regular-season games with West, matched the Tigers' nine hits. But West (30-7) benefited from eight walks and two hits batsmen, and the Wildcats also made two costly errors.
"Kudos to them," Central coach Anne Campbell said. "They absolutely are a great team. They're the No. 1 seed for a reason.
"We played tentative from the get-go. They got all the momentum, and it snowballed. We didn't play as well we have have been playing. We gave them 11 free bases. You can't make those mistakes at this point of the season."
West got on the board in the bottom of the first when Alysia Rodriguez reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and scored on Robb's single.
Rodriguez triggered a four-run third with a one-out double that she drilled off the left-center field fence. Julia Liceaga singled home a run and Kristen Ames singled in two more.
"That was a big hit Kristen got," Rodriguez said. "The one I hit, I hit it pretty hard. I was hoping it would just get a little more height."
Central got a run back in the fourth when Hannah Franceschini doubled and scored on Tara Cannella's single. But if the Wildcats had thoughts of getting back in it, Tokarczyk applied with dagger with her slam in the bottom of the inning.
"I wasn't thinking anything, just get up there and hit," said Tokarczyk, who also homered in the Tigers' 4-3 win over Yorkville in the title game of the Lincoln-Way North Regional. "We hit the ball pretty hard all day and when you do that, teams usually make some errors and help you out."
Robb doubled to right-center for her third hit leading off the sixth and Madi Mulder sacrificed to set up Tokarczyk's walkoff single.
"The hits I got were just a bonus," Robb said, smiling.
Cannella and Gretchen Egly had two hits apiece for Central, which stranded 10 runners. Robb, however, was not in a giving mood. She walked nobody and went to three balls on only two hitters.
"The hits were even, but they gave us opportunities," Suca said. "We got clutch hits and our defense made clutch plays."