Charmelle eco-friendly recalls losing her mind in ~ times throughout Utah"s WAC title-clinching night/morning doubleheader v Creighton.Courtesy Utah
To this day, Bruce Rasmussen recalls the excited wife who greeted him at residence the morning after one of the strangest occasions in college sporting activities history, definitely the longest and oddest come unfold ~ above a soft ball diamond.

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"She wanted to recognize where the hell I had actually been," Rasmussen chuckled.

Creighton"s athletic director because that the past two decades, that was, in 1991, coach the the school"s women"s basketball team. And like plenty of in the strong department the spring a 4 minutes 1 of a century ago, he was drafted to aid during the west Athletic Conference softball tournament in Omaha, Nebraska. So after lending his hand to the grounds crew, that told his mam the truth: he had gone to the field.

"That didn"t seem to be an extremely realistic to her," the recalled. "I understand she assumed I was production a story."

Kelly Prokupek combated Utah for 51 1/3 innings over 12 hours and never provided up an earn run.Courtesy CreightonElsewhere in Omaha the morning, Creighton senior pitcher Kelly Prokupek, then Kelly Brookhart, dropped right into bed and finally slept after ~ a one-woman filibuster versus an foe she couldn"t beat: time.

Starting on might 11, 1991, Creighton and also Utah played what remains the longest game in NCAA soft ball history. It covered 31 innings, lasted practically seven hours and also required an ext than 700 pitches come complete. Not until after midnight did Creighton"s 1-0 win stave turn off season-ending elimination.

The video game lasted longer than any NCAA soft ball or baseball game prior to or since. That was just two innings shorter than the 1981 game between the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox and also Rochester Red Wings, widely considered the longest video game in expert baseball history.

Incredibly, after a 20-minute break, Creighton and also Utah turn around and played the third-longest game in NCAA history, 25 more innings.

The teams played till Utah"s 4-3 victory clinched the championship. Lock played until the very same sun that collection on lock Saturday rose to usher in Sunday.

Prokupek was in the circle when it started and also in it as soon as it ended. She pitched 51 1/3 the 56 innings. She never enabled an deserve run.

Two that the 3 longest gamings in NCAA history, ago to back. The an initial game started at 6 p.m. On might 11 and ended in ~ 12:25 a.m. On might 12. Prokupek threw 390 pitches, follow to a story on the 20th anniversary. 4 Utah players had 14 official at-bats. The second game started at 12:45 a.m. On may 12 and ended at 6:10 a.m.

Is it any wonder Jill Rasmussen was cynical of she husband"s story?

"The lot of times you had to fail, to have it not take place for your team, was simply too lot for me."Amy Hogue

Close your eyes and imagine the sound of a ballpark. Possibly you listen the smack the the sphere hitting the catcher"s mitt, the chatter of infielders. Perhaps you hear the electrical hum of lights illuminating the night or the buzz that cicadas announcing the afternoon heat.

The sound friend don"t hear is the dawn chorus, the name given to the birds that replace night"s silence as an initial light approaches.

"We nice much shed track that time," claimed Mary Higgins, climate Creighton"s coach. "We just kept going one inning and also then another inning and also then one more inning. And then i remember preventing in ours tracks, going, "Wait a minute, those are birds chirping. The sun is going to come up. We played the entire night.""

These job members the the huge East and also Pac-12, respectively, Creighton and Utah both played soft ball in the WAC in 1991. The top seed in the conference tournament, Utah won its first two games and eased into the championship round booked for that Saturday evening.

Creighton, by contrast, lost its opener and had come win 3 consecutive removed games, which that did by similar 1-0 scores, to sign up with Utah in the final. The last of the preliminary wins come Saturday afternoon against brand-new Mexico. Prokupek pitched it, too.

That set the stage for what followed, the urgency to complete the proceedings due to the fact that the NCAA clip was set to be released the adhering to day.

The teams damaged the record for the longest softball video game after 28 innings in the very first game. Three innings later, it finished in fittingly bizarre fashion. A Creighton runner progressed to 3rd base with one out in the peak of the 31st ~ Utah"s shortstop, stationed near 3rd base, stepped across the foul line during an intentional to walk (by rule, defenders need to take positions in ~ fair territory). A subsequent sacrifice fly lugged home the runner and Prokupek retirement Utah in bespeak in the bottom that the inning.

Today Amy Hogue is Utah"s softball coach, and she tho holds the difference of do the final out in the longest softball game in NCAA history.Courtesy UtahNow Utah"s coach however at the moment a student in the first year infielder who made the last out the the very first game, Amy Hogue, then Amy Timmel, recalled that players rallied throughout the break in between games through comforting themselves v the expertise that the winner-take-all finale would certainly feel favor a acceleration at just seven innings.

Then Prokupek, additionally Creighton"s best hitter, bound the finale with a two-run double in the bottom the the sixth inning. On castle played. Again.

Feet bruised indigenous standing in cleats. A Creighton player hurt a shoulder running into the fence, miscellaneous Higgins attributed come fatigue. And also yet the physics toll was milder 보다 the mental one. Hogue recalled a minute well right into the countless night as soon as All-American center fielder Charmelle Green, that went 7-for-12 with two go in the an initial game, stood virtually aimlessly together the pitch was delivered. Her glove wasn"t also on she hand.

"I recall losing my mind at points in time," said Green, now the an elderly women"s administrator at pen State. "And having actually Evans say "Charmelle, obtain with it, you deserve to do this." ...

"I"m approximately athletics daily, and also I"ve seen an excellent wins and devastating losses. Yet nothing that procedures up come the suffer of play 56 directly innings of softball."

No one was immune. After she grounded the end to end an inning, Hogue go toward very first base coach mary Kay Amicone, lowered her helmet to the coach"s chest and also said she couldn"t perform it anymore. Amicone readily available the traditional encouraging words and also waited because that Hogue to relocate on and also get prepared for the following inning. The player simply stood there, head bowed and also silent.

She trudged ago to 2nd base only as soon as a teammate brought out she glove.

"The quantity of time you had actually to fail, to have actually it not occur for her team, was just too much for me," Hogue said.

"We just kept going one inning and then another inning and also then one more inning. And then ns remember avoiding in ours tracks, going "Wait a minute, those room birds chirping. The sun is going to come up. Us played the entire night.""Mary Higgins

There to be moments of absurdity, too, the kind of punchiness born of sleeplessness. 2 uniforms on hand in case of a second game, Utah players adjusted while the an initial game was still in progression in wishes it would transform their luck. Rasmussen said the grounds crew amassed mini-fortunes in a between-innings game based on whether the ball continued to be in the pitching circle as soon as rolled over there after the 3rd out. Having exhausted both inspirational banter and useful advice, Higgins recalled replacing the acquainted "Go Jays" chant in team huddles with words favor "Mayonnaise" or "Peanut butter."

Something, noþeles to save minds from hike deeper into a psychological wilderness.

"We had totally run the end of words come say," Higgins said. "It was choose "Just struggle the God-dang ball, will ya?""

Amidst every one of that, Prokupek retained pitching. She recalled her arm cramped increase on the very first two warm-up pitches she threw prior to she gone into the second game in the 5th inning. Climate it loosened up, together if, in her words, it remembered what it was supposed to do.

"She"s the story," Hogue said.

Prokupek didn"t overpower batters, didn"t breeze with innings. The wasn"t the aptly named Debbie death striking out 20 batters because that UCLA in a 13-inning postseason game. Never a strikeout pitcher, Prokupek fanned simply 15 batters in an ext than 50 innings that night. It to be a pitching duel, versus Utah"s Janet Womack in the very first game and Melissa Halkinrude in the second, however not one in i m sorry hitters were helpless accessories. Utah stranded 64 runners.

Prokupek remembered eco-friendly at one stage gaining hits turn off every type of pitch she threw. Her arsenal exhausted, she looked at her pitching coach and also shrugged, bested.

But that emotion was mutual.

"I recall occasionally being intimidated and also trying not to show it due to the fact that she was so good, she hit she spots therefore well," environment-friendly said. "Kelly Brookhart was among the many fierce competitors, the most tenacious and also fierce competitors I"ve ever before seen."

After 20 innings that shutout relief, nearing 60 innings due to the fact that she arrived on the park, Prokupek watched Utah score an unearned run on an error in the top of the 25th (a organization official unilaterally instituted a usual tiebreaker late in the 2nd game, a runner inserted on second base to start each half inning). As fate would have actually it, she concerned the plate through two outs and a runner on basic in the bottom of the inning. The felt choose solid contact when she swung. She watched the sphere sail straight to the left fielder. That memory is much more clear than almost any various other from that night.

Jo Evans claims the purity that the games is what stands out many in her storage 25 years later.J.P. Wilson/Icon Sportswire"That to be my job," Prokupek said. "I to be the No. 3 hitter. I"m claimed to get the hits, I"m claimed to hit in the runs. That"s what I"m an alleged to do.

"Instead I obtained the critical out."

Going v the postgame handshake line with more hugs than handshakes, an adversary told Prokupek she couldn"t remember ever before getting the end so countless times. The struck the pitcher as funny, however she uncovered she couldn"t laugh through the tears.

"The game was simply played in its pure sense," stated Evans, now the coach at Texas A&M. "That"s something the will constantly be a fond memory of mine, one that stands out an ext given the climate the our sports now.

"In this day and also age, in the gamings that we compete in through all the gamesmanship and all the shenanigans and one-upping and also coaches trying to acquire an advantage or an edge -- every the stuff that goes ~ above in our video game now -- nobody of that occurred for 12 hours and also 56 innings."

One person"s celebration event is one more person"s farewell. Utah went on to uncomfortable Texas A&M in an NCAA tournament local the adhering to week and also reached the Women"s College people Series. Evans wonders if miscellaneous the world in university Station, Texas, saw throughout that regional might it is in the factor they offered her the task she currently holds as among the sport"s winningest coaches. Creighton walk home.

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"Some have been really painful and just stuck to you forever," stated Higgins, now president of Marian High institution in Omaha. "This is no a pains loss. It was not painful. Ns think both teams had so much respect because that each other. I simply remember players going with the line and just hugging each other. It could have to be us, it could have to be them. ...