ALGONQUIN – DeKalb senior center fielder Sabrina Killeen wanted a chance to redeem herself.
A two-out fly ball in the sixth inning against Huntley fell in front of Killeen as she raced in to try and make up ground after misjudging the play.
On the next pitch, Killeen and the Barbs watched Huntley’s Mackenzie Brown hit a two-run homer to tie the game in the sixth in the Class 4A Jacobs regional semifinal game.
However, Killeen didn’t let the defensive misplay affect her when she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. With the game still tied at 2, and runners on second and third, Killeen connected on a 1-1 pitch from Huntley pitcher Haley Spannraft for the game-winning single to left field. No. 2 DeKalb’s 3-2 win sets it up to play No. 5 Jacobs in the regional final at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“It felt amazing,” Killeen said. “I kind of knew I was going to be in that position to get the game-winning hit because we had two people on. I feel like I’m a senior, it’s my job to step up and be a leader in this kind of position.”
The Barbs (21-8) were in control most of the game thanks to a dominanting performance from junior pitcher Katie Kowalski. She held the Red Raiders (22-12) to three hits and struck out 12 while walking only one hitter.
Kowalski struck out two hitters in every inning except during Huntley’s two-run sixth. The offense allowed Kowalski to attack in the circle, scoring two runs in the first on Sarah Friedlund’s two-out single to right field.
“Coming out in the first inning, I felt really good this game,” Kowalski said. “I felt like I was throwing hard, throwing strikes. I came out strong from the start.”
Huntley struggled to create offensively most of the game against Kowalski. Except for the Red Raiders’ two base runners in the sixth, they were limited to four base runners the rest of the game. DeKalb worked around a potential Huntley scoring threat in the fifth after Kowalski hit Shannon Walsh with one out. Walsh advanced to third on two stolen bases but was stranded when Kowalski got a pop up and strikeout to end the inning.
DeKalb had an opportunity to add important insurance runs in the fifth after tallying a one-out walk and single. But Huntley doubled up DeKalb at second on an infield fly to escape.
“I cannot express how happy and pleased I was with our effort,” Huntley coach Mark Petryniec said. “Never quit, they never think they’re out of a game. Complete hats off to Kowalski and the game she pitched today because that was a battle.”