DeKALB – Morgan Newport hadn’t been in a high-pressure situation quite like this as a high school pitcher.
The bases were loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and Newport’s DeKalb Barbs led Sycamore by one run at a packed Mary M. Bell Field on the campus of Northern Illinois University. The Barbs’ freshman was on the mound facing Spartans senior Abby Foulk.
With a 3-1 count, Newport made her pitch, getting Foulk to bounce the ball right in front of home plate and all DeKalb catcher Lindsey Costliow had to do was pick up the ball and throw Foulk out at first for a 4-3 Barbs win.
With no room for error, Newport wanted to pitch Foulk inside.
“I wanted to jam her in a little bit,” Newport said. “But Abby’s a great hitter and I knew that I was going to have to throw a really good pitch.”
Newport relieved DeKalb starter Katie Kowalski, who gave up an unearned run on three hits in her five innings of work. Kowalski is still recovering from an injury, and DeKalb coach Jeff Davis wants to make sure she’s healthy for the postseason.
Newport surrendered a two-out, two-run double to Sycamore designated player Paige Bjork in the sixth. Sycamore (9-13, 3-6 NI Big 12 East) loaded the bases in the seventh with an error, walk and a hit, but Newport got the three outs she needed to give the Barbs [17-4, 5-2 Northern Illinois Big 12 East] a win.
“I thought Morgan held her composure real well. It was a nice little icebreaker for her to pitch on the big stage under the lights, getting two innings in,” Davis said. “And she picks up the victory. Unfortunate for Katie, but good for Morgan and good for the Barbs.”
The Spartans fell just short, but Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter was able to watch her team come through in some clutch moments in its comeback attempt.
“I think all year we’ve been a team, we’ve been pretty steady with our demeanor. We don’t experience too many highs and lows, which can be good and not good,” Carpenter said. “But we got in a situation where we needed a hit and Paige Bjork came up with a really big hit in that at-bat (in the sixth).
“... All you can ever ask for is a chance at the end of a game, and we had a chance. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Carpenter also mentioned that Tuesday’s game featured a playoff atmosphere, something a lot of prep players don’t get to experience at the beginning of May.
“For the kids, getting to play on a college field, with this many fans, that’s something to truly really relish because not many high school teams get to do that,” Carpenter said.