CRYSTAL LAKE – The DeKalb softball team stood out in the right field stands and applauded Warren as the Blue Devils received their sectional championship plaque.
The Barbs were playing in their second sectional title game in three years, but came up short, falling 6-1 to Warren in the Class 4A Prairie Ridge Sectional final.
DeKalb (23-9) got on the board first when Lindsey Costliow drove in Sabrina Killeen, but Warren (27-6) came back with three in the fourth. Morgan Newport relieved Barbs starting pitcher Katie Kowalski in the fifth, giving up three unearned runs in her three innings of work.
The Barbs had trouble putting together consistent at-bats against Warren pitcher Jana Wagner, notching just six hits. DeKalb stranded a runner on second in the fourth and fifth, and stranded two more in both the sixth and seventh innings.
"She seemed a lot tougher than when we scouted her," DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said. "I thought we prepared well, we seemed to be a little off balance. She did a nice job keeping us off balance."
Wagner struck out eight, and DeKalb had trouble with her high fastball.
"We try to stay off of it and sometimes [the umpire] will call it a strike," said DeKalb's Rachael Johnson, who went 2-for-3 with a double. "It's very difficult to get up there and keep it down instead of popping it up."
The Barbs obviously would have rather had their season end with them hoisting the sectional title plaque. With a good amount of talent coming back – eight of the 10 players in DeKalb's starting lineup were underclassmen – Davis is happy with where the program is, with two regional titles in three years and a solid core returning in 2014.
"We have a very sound junior class that have been with us for those three years," Davis said. "The foundation's there. We're hoping to be right back here next year, but on the other side." The juniors coming back include Johnson, Costliow, Kowalski, Sarah Friedlund and Jessica Townsend, all of which were starters in Saturday's sectional final.
"I feel like [the postseason] was a good experience and it will be a good experience next year to get out here," Johnson said. "We're going to lose two really good seniors (Walter and Killeen), they're both four-year starters and we're going to miss them a lot. They were both big assets to our team."