Courtney Smith remembers it like it was yesterday, even though it was more than five years ago.

Courtney Smith remembers it like it was yesterday, even though it was more than five years ago.

The emotion. The excitement. The exhaustion. The strikeouts. The grand slam.

Especially the grand slam.

In May 2006, Smith, a standout senior pitcher for the Hilliard Davidson High School softball team, went head-to-head with Sarah Phillips of Olentangy Liberty for 22 innings in a Division I district final at Pickerington Central.

The three-day marathon wasn't decided until Smith hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 22nd for a 4-1 victory.

Smith also had 29 strikeouts, the 11th highest total in state history for an extra-inning game, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association. In 2010, Hayley Flynn of Duncan Falls Philo set the state record with 55 strikeouts in 24 innings against Thornville Sheridan.

"The biggest thing I remember is this wave of emotion," Smith said. "I was exhausted and excited both at the same time. It was amazing."

It remains the longest OHSAA softball tournament game. Liberty and Davidson played seven scoreless innings on May 17, were rained out and never took the field on May 18 and played 15 innings on May 19.

"The first day (the teams) were neck and neck and I don't think anyone had a hit," Smith said. "I remember it rained for like three or four hours (on May 17) and there were no lights (at Pickerington Central).

"When we got rain the second day (May 18), I was really nervous because we had been playing well before the rain came. We were all really anxious to get out there and didn't want to wait another day."

Smith's counterpart also had an impressive performance. Phillips struck out 30, which ties her for ninth in the state record book with Medina's Jessica Miller in 1999, but she also surrendered Smith's district-title winning home run.

"I think she said it was a riseball, but I don't think so because I wouldn't have hit it if it was (a riseball)," Smith said. "Maybe I got out ahead of the pitch before it started to move or maybe it didn't move. I knew it was high and I was able to make contact and get it over the fence."

It was the first home run Smith had hit at any level. She played one season at the University of Indianapolis and never hit another homer.

"I would have to say the grand slam was better (than the 29 strikeouts)," said Smith, who had 77 wins at Davidson. "It was my first homer ever and just to be able to finally end that game."

Liberty took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 22nd. Rebecca Adam hit a two-out double and moved to third on a single by Phillips. Emily Capretta followed with a liner that went off the glove of shortstop Cassady Busellato, scoring Adam.

"It was a pitchers' battle the whole time and we both gave up runs in the 22nd inning," Smith said. "We went into the last inning with clear heads and ready to finish it."

Erin Roberts led off the bottom of the 22nd with a single before Lauren Espe and Meredith Parish followed with bunt singles to load the bases. Smith didn't waste time, sending the first offering from Phillips over the left-field fence.

"(Phillips) had retired like 13 or 14 in a row before we came up in the 22nd, so having our No. 9 batter, Erin Roberts, come up and get a hit was big," Davidson coach Angelo Forte said. "Then Lauren Espe and Meredith Parish followed with bunts to load the bases and then (Liberty) shaded Courtney to right field. She had only hit one ball in her life to right field, so I was hoping she could get the ball to fall in left field so we could win it. (The grand slam) was something I never saw coming."

The Wildcats advanced to a regional semifinal at Ohio State, where they lost to Marysville 12-1 to finish the season 23-7.

Davidson catcher Kaylyn Heading said the district final was the kind of game that a player never forgets.

"It was 22 innings and those type of games just don't come around often," said Heading, who played four seasons at Rio Grande and graduated in 2010 with a degree in professional and business communication. "Courtney pitched great and then came up and got the big hit like she had throughout the season. It was a pretty magical ending. It's still pretty cool, even today."

Forte said the game might never have reached the 22nd inning had a rule change not been made before the 2006 season. Before that, after games reached the 10th inning, they were played according to international rules. That meant at the beginning of each half inning, a runner was placed at second base with no outs.

"We lost a district final that way to Mount Vernon (3-1 in 10 innings in 2002) and I had been pushing to get the rule changed for years," Forte said. "I had been on both sides of the international tiebreaker, but I think the game is much-improved without it."

Before Smith's grand slam, it was her right fielder and catcher who combined to make the game's biggest play 11 innings earlier.

Phillips was at second base with two outs in the top of the 11th when Kellie Schultz singled to right field. Phillips hesitated as she rounded third as right fielder Abbey Parsley threw to Heading. There was a collision at the plate, but Heading held on to the ball to end the scoring threat.

"Courtney had a great individual performance, but we made some great defensive plays across the board and that (play at the plate) was definitely one of those," Forte said. "I was talking to Abbey last week and she said that it was one of the most memorable plays she had as a softball player."

Along with her 29 strikeouts, Smith surrendered 14 hits and issued two walks, one in the sixth and one in the 11th. The Wildcats had 16 hits against Phillips.

"That game was a duel between Courtney and Sarah Phillips," Heading said. "Courtney was always one to find ways to get people out. I remember her riseball, screwball and changeup were working. She just found ways to, not necessarily strike them out, but to get people out."

Smith graduated from the University of Indianapolis in 2010 with a marketing degree. She stayed in Indianapolis and works in communications for an economic development firm called Develop Indy.

"I was talking to a guy from work last week who was a swimmer in high school," Smith said. "I told him about it and he thought it was great and really had an appreciation that I had played in a game like that. It definitely was a game that I'll never forget."