ALGONQUIN – With the score tied at four in the bottom of the fifth inning, DeKalb senior Sarah Friedlund had one thing on her mind when she came plate with two runners in scoring position – get them home.
Friedlund did more than just stay within herself as she belted an opposite field three-run home run to give the Barbs the lead for good in its 8-4 win over McHenry in the Class 4A Jacobs Sectional semifinals.
“I just need to get the runners in,” Friedlund said. “I was just trying to stay within myself, which is something I have been struggling with throughout the year with keeping calm and focusing on getting good hits.”
DeKalb (27-7) trailed 4-0 entering the fifth inning. Eight straight batters reached base and Friedlund’s bomb was the last hit of that streak.
“I thought we grinded it out – We didn’t give up,” DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said. “We had good at- bats. Strung a few hits together to tie it up, and Sarah with the big blow.”
McHenry (24-10-1) scored its four runs early by notching two runs in both the first and third innings against Barbs pitcher Katie Kowalski. In the big fifth, Tayler Garland led off the inning by reaching on an error.
“How many times have you seen it in softball or baseball? You just need that little crack in the door to start it and there it was,” Davis said. “We just capitalized from one of their mistakes.”
Next, Jessica Townsend drew a walk and the Barbs had two runners on base for the first time in the game. Rachael Johnson laced a single, which plated Garland, and Claire Koertner walked in the next at-bat, which loaded the bases.
Abby Taylor singled home Townsend to make the score 4-2. After Erin Karasewski hit into a fielder’s choice, Morgan Newport ripped a double to left field, which tied the game. That’s when Friedlund came to the plate.
“I just had to stop, let my mind go clear and blank, and just go up there and hit a good pitch when I got it,” Friedlund said.
After the Friedlund home run, the Barbs put two more on base in the inning, but couldn't plate another run. Kowalski took the rubber in the top of the sixth and retired the side in order.
“That inning was huge,” Kowalski said. “We scored seven runs and right then I knew that we were going to win this game. Our team was in it and we had the momentum going with us and going out on the field, we just pulled it together.”
The Barbs added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Newport doubled in Karasweski. The Warriors had two on with two outs in the seventh and Kristin Koepke, who had already doubled and homered, was coming to the plate.
The ball was laced right to Friedlund at third base, who made the catch to end the game.
Newport led DeKalb with three hits and three RBIs. Garland and Johnson each finished with two hits apiece. Kowalski allowed four runs on six hits, and only allowed one hit over the final four innings.
“It feels incredible,” Kowalski said. “It is the best feeling in the world, especially because we were down 4-0. Everyone was down and I know that (McHenry) didn’t think we’d come back and score seven in one inning.”
The Barbs will play the winner of Wednesday's other semifinal between Rockton Hononegah and Barrington. First pitch has been pushed back to 3 p.m. due to DeKalb's graduation in the morning.