HUNTLEY – Entering the Class 4A Huntley Regional final, the DeKalb softball team knew that its opponent, the host Red Raiders, were known for bunting a lot and playing small ball.
“We knew one thing — we were going to do what they do,” DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said. “There are a lot of teams that do things well but don’t defend it well. They bunt the ball well and we practiced real hard defending it. So, lets see if they can defend what they do all the time.”
The Barbs bunted six times in the contest, including three in a two-run first inning. Those two runs were enough for the Barbs as DeKalb beat the Red Raiders 3-0 for their second straight regional title.
Lindsey Costliow and Abby Taylor each had two hits apiece to lead the Barbs (26-7) at the plate. Katie Kowalski earned the win in the circle with a complete-game shutout. The senior hurler struck out six Huntley (20-17) batters and only allowed one hit.
“I think we played really well as a team,” Kowalski said. “Obviously, we scored runs and we had incredible defense. Our defense was on point today.”
The opening inning started with a Taylor infield single. After being sacrificed to second, Morgan Newport lined a triple to left field and Taylor scored.
Later in the inning with two on, Costliow dropped down a bunt. Newport came into score and Costliow was safe at first. The Barbs tried another squeeze two batters later, but Sarah Friedlund was thrown out at home.
“That was big. We jumped out early,” Davis said. “We pulled off a suicide squeeze that got us a run. I don’t think they were looking for that. We hadn’t done it that often but we executed it very nice.”
After one inning, DeKalb led 2-0 and that was all the run support Kowalski needed. The only hit she allowed came in the second inning – a double to Megan Baczewski. Over the final five innings, Kowalski allowed just two runners.
“It is definitely a big sense of relief when we score early. Because I know that my team is on today and we want this win,” Kowalski said. “It was a big relief.”
The third run the Barbs scored came in the fourth inning when Claire Koertner scored on a Friedlund fielder’s choice.
DeKalb will play McHenry Tuesday in the semifinals of the Algonquin Jacobs Sectional. McHenry beat Grant 2-1 in the McHenry Regional final