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Kowalski dominant in Barbs’ regional semifinal win

HUNTLEY – The wind blew, a few rain drops began to fall down, and DeKalb just kept knocking in runs.

The Barbs blew away Rockford Jefferson on Tuesday afternoon, defeating the J-Hawks in five innings, 10-0, in the Class 4A Huntley Regional semifinals. And while starting pitcher Katie Kowalski and her team were dominant, the threatening storm was the extra push leading them to a quick win.

“I think it motivated us to get done quicker,” said Kowalski, who finished with 11 strikeouts in a complete-game effort. “We just wanted to get the game done and get out of here.”

Erin Karasewski was the one to finish Jefferson off, one month after making her varsity debut. In the bottom of the fifth, the freshman stepped up and knocked in two runs with a single to left field, ending the contest just before the rain started to pour.

The win means top-seeded DeKalb (25-7) will be back in action at 11 a.m. Saturday, taking on the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between second-seeded Huntley and third-ranked Rockford East.

As has happened many times this season, DeKalb coach Jeff Davis can thank his senior pitcher for a superior performance. Kowalski sent J-Hawk after J-Hawk back to the dugout, giving up only two hits.

“We’ve been getting that all year,” Davis said of the performance. “Katie’s been our workhorse, and we’re going to ride her out. We’ll go as far as she can take us.”

It doesn’t hurt when the Barbs are getting production throughout the lineup. Eight of the nine batters in the starting lineup reached base in the game, and they led 7-0 after two innings.

Davis was particularly impressed with senior center fielder Jessica Townsend, who had a pair of doubles and an RBI.

“It seems like when [Townsend] hits, we tend to score a lot of runs,” Davis said. “Jess in the seven spot hit today, and we scored 10 runs. It’s a good sign.”

The Barbs got a really productive day out of senior third baseman Sarah Friedlund as well. She reached base all three times she stepped to the plate: a fielder’s choice, an RBI single and a walk. Sophomore Morgan Newport chipped in an RBI triple.

It was a textbook team effort from DeKalb. The Barbs came in as the favorites and left having shown exactly why.

“I think our team just worked really well together,” Kowalski said. “We picked each other up when we needed to, and in the end, when we needed to get three runs, we really just sat down and said, ‘Let’s go and finish it.’ "

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