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SOFTBALL INSIDER: Taylor key at top of Barbs' order

Published: Saturday, April 26, 2014 12:22 a.m. CST
Caption
(Ryan Gaines for Shaw Media)
DeKalb's ( ) attempts to get an out at second base while Kaneland's Morgan Weber slides in hard. The visiting Lady Barbs defeated Kaneland, 3-1 on Thursday April 24, 2014.

SPOTLIGHT ON ...

Kayla Kauffman

Indian Creek, senior, catcher

Kauffman had a solo homer in the Timberwolves’ loss to Earlville-Leland this week, and had two more Friday against Serena.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

DeKalb vs. Sycamore, 7 p.m. Friday at
Northern Illinois’ Mary M. Bell Field

The two rivals square off for the first time this season, under the lights at NIU.

Sycamore at Genoa-Kingston,
4:30 p.m. Monday

Could be a regional preview between two area schools. Both the Cogs and Spartans are assigned to the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional.

POWER RANKINGS

1. DeKalb (10-5, 1-2 NI Big 12 East)

Barbs earned a big win over Kaneland on Thursday.

2. Genoa-Kingston (9-6, 2-3 BNC East)

Mix of veterans and youngsters has fueled Cogs.

3. Kaneland (8-8, 1-2 NI Big 12 East)

Knights had the Barbs down, but couldn’t close them out.

4. Sycamore (4-8, 1-2 NI Big 12 East)

Spartans’ offensive attack is potent.

5. Indian Creek (4-7, 3-6 LTC)

Timberwolves topped Hiawatha this week.

6. Hiawatha (4-5, 3-3 LTC)

Hawks coach David Tamraz said his team’s bats are starting to come around.

NOTEBOOK: Taylor setting the table for Barbs

DeKalb's lineup is full of experienced talent.

Players like Sarah Friedlund, Morgan Newport, Jessica Townsend and Lindsey Costliow line the heart of the order. All have at least a year of varsity experience under their belt.

However, the player setting the table for the Barbs has been a sophomore, Abby Taylor, the team's shortstop.

DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said Taylor is hitting around .380. She wasn't in the leadoff spot at the beginning of the season, but Davis moved her to the top of the lineup and she excelled.

Taylor is able to slap the ball from the left side of the plate, using her great speed to get on base. The thing is, she's originally a right-handed hitter – Taylor converted to the other side of the plate last season.

"She's only been hitting left-handed for about eight months," DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said. "She's pretty important to our team right now."

Trio of pitchers stepping up for Hawks

Hiawatha lost a lot of talent from last year's regional championship team, including pitchers Ashley Tamraz and Dani Clark.

So far this season, Hawks coach David Tamraz has divided up his innings between three pitchers – freshman Lexi Ross and sophomores Madison Marshall and Presley Fischer. Marshall got some varsity experience last season, but the other two are newcomers to the team.

Tamraz has mainly used Ross and Marshall as his starters, with Fischer relieving Ross.

"It's worked out real well. Lexi I think is our fastest pitcher," Tamraz said. "What I do is let her go around the order once, and then I bring in Presley, who has a very fast windup and she's very [slow to the plate]. They're way out in front of it."

VIEWS: NI Big 12 East race wide open

I thought DeKalb was the heavy favorite in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East at the beginning of the season

However, the early portion of the conference season might show how deep the league might end up being. In the Barbs’ conference opener at Morris on April 17, DeKalb suffered a 2-1 loss to what looks like an up-and-coming Redskins team.

It’s looking like the Barbs-Redskins clash Tuesday at DeKalb will be huge when it comes to the league title race, especially after the Barbs’ 5-4 loss Friday at Yorkville.

“I thought for sure it would be Kaneland, us and Yorkville at the top,” DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said. “... You don’t know, you can’t predict it. It’s high school sports. You just hope to compete in every game and give your team the best chance to finish in first.”

Kaneland was at the bottom of the conference entering Friday’s game against Sycamore, but the Spartans hung with the Barbs on Thursday.

Sycamore has been up and down this season, but the Spartans have the offense to compete with anyone in the league.

One thing is for sure, the NI Big 12 East is deep, and nobody can take a game for granted.

• Steve Nitz is a sports writer for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at snitz@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SNitz_DDC.

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