EAST PEORIA -- The words were hard to come by for Montini on Saturday. State softball championships can do that to players.
But the way the Broncos rallied, with 12 runs in the top of the seventh, for a 15-8 victory over Kaneland in the IHSA Class 3A finals championship game, made it especially hard to describe.
The Broncos trailed 7-0 through three innings and were down to their final three outs. But before they even had made one of those, the first nine batters had come around to score. The final three runs came with one out.
"I wasn't expecting this," said senior pitcher Allyson Dilday, who picked up the win in relief. "There are no words."
Said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky: "A state championship is a state championship, they are just so special. But to deal with this, something I haven't seen before in 34 years. It's unbelievable."
Kaneland did all it could do but just had no way to stop Montini in the seventh.
"Our girls performed great and we put pressure on them early," Kaneland coach Mike Kuefler said. "They were able to turn the tables on us at the end."
The game was a reversal of an 11-10 Kaneland victory on May 4. In that contest the Knights trailed 10-2 entering the sixth. The Montini players remembered that game.
"I told the girls, remember what they did to us last time. We could do that back," Montini coach Mike Bukovsky said. "I'm not going to take a lie-detector test and tell you it was going to happen that way, but I told our girls anything can happen."
Montini (30-9) strung together single after single, with three walks interspersed, including a pair of intentional walks to Nikki Cuchran.
Lauren Latoria, batting fifth, two spots after Cuchran in the lineup, made Kaneland pay with a pair of 2-run singles.
Latoria's 4 RBI, along with the 4 put up by Alyssa Filkowski, set the Class 3A title game record.
Filkowski's 2-run homer in the fifth broke the shutout. It was followed by a solo homer by Cuchran to cut Montini's deficit to 7-3.
Dilday allowed just one hit, a Donatela Sommesi homer in the bottom of the fifth, to keep Montini within what turned out to be striking distance, no matter how unlikely.
Despite the way the season ended, there was little disappointment for the Knights (27-10).
"We're not going to win all of our games. We know that," said Sommesi, whose 4 runs tied the all-class individual title game record. "I kept my head up that last inning. I knew that win or lose I had my girls beside me. I'm grateful to have a medal around my neck and a trophy in my hands."
While the second-place finish was Kaneland's highest in the program's history, Montini took home its second state title in three years.
"To win state twice, I never thought it would happen, craziest thing that could happen to me," said Latoria, a junior shortstop. "Montini is the best decision I ever made in my life. The opportunities you get here to do this. You surround yourself with successful people and you'll do successful things."