ALGONQUIN – All season the DeKalb softball team had excelled at the plate in two-out situations, often coming through with a clutch hit.
But lately, those at-bats typically resulted in an out to end the inning. The Barbs chose a great time to get back on track. During the second inning of DeKalb's Class 4A regional final against Jacobs, the Barbs tallied three two-out hits in a five-run frame. No. 2 DeKalb added six more runs in the third to cruise to a 12-2 win in five innings against No. 5 Jacobs to win the regional title.
"We adjusted well and knew we were going to hit the ball hard," Barbs coach Jeff Davis said. "That was a big inning for us in bunches and that's pretty awesome. That was really nice. It's good to have the [regional title] plaque in our hands."
DeKalb (22-8) didn't waste much time answering after Jacobs (18-15) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Every batter hit in the five-run second, but the big inning nearly didn't happen. Battling a small strike zone that both teams endured, Jacobs starting pitcher Kelsey Peters was a strike away from escaping a bases loaded, two-out situation. However, senior Hannah Walter drew a bases loaded, full-count walk to bring in a run and on the ensuing pitch, freshman Morgan Newport cleared the bases with a double to put the Barbs ahead, 4-2. Junior Lindsey Costliow followed with a run-scoring double to cap their five-run inning.
DeKalb starting pitcher Katie Kowalski settled down after Jacobs scored two runs in the first, not allowing a hit in the final four innings. A tight strike zone led to plenty of walks for both teams, which combined for 13 walks in five innings.
"It was really tough because [the umpire] wasn't giving the inside corner, and that's mainly where I stay – I throw on the inside corner all game," Kowalski said. "That was hard to work through ... but we came back and found a rhythm."
The Barbs refused to sit back and assume their 5-2 lead would be safe. During a six-run third inning, 11 DeKalb players batted with Sabrina Killeen recording a two-run double – one of five different players with an RBI. DeKalb's regional final win denied Jacobs its fourth consecutive regional title.
"I told our girls that we exceeded a lot of expectations this week and that's all you can do: play above what people think," Jacobs coach Jeremy Bauer said. "That's a real testament to your team and perseverence. Unfortunately the magic ran out."