DeKALB – DeKalb freshman Rylee Levine tied it with her bat and then sophomore Mallory Warner won it with her legs.
The Barbs scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, including an RBI single by Levine, and Warner scored on a wild pitch to stun rival Sycamore, 5-4, on a windy Thursday night at Mary M. Bell Field at Northern Illinois University.
“I wasn’t nervous [during the at-bat in the seventh] – I don’t know why, I usually am,” Levine said. “I had been hitting good and I’m confident in myself.”
Levine had a monster night in her first rivalry game at NIU, going 3 for 3 with a home run, three RBIs and a walk. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, she hit an RBI single to right-center field to tie the game at 4, and Warner was rounding third base before DeKalb coach Jeff Davis held her up.
In the next at-bat, with Payton Montgomery up, a pitch by Sycamore starter Faith Reynolds was high and went to the backstop and Warner charged home for the game-winning run.
“As soon as I saw it tip off her glove, I was like, ‘I’m going,’” Warner said. “I’m fast, but I’m not that fast. I trusted myself and I just went.”
The win was much-needed for the Barbs (6-10 overall, 2-5 in Northern Illinois Big 12) after coming into the contest having lost six consecutive games.
“It’s been a while since [we had a win],” Davis said. “This was just a great softball game. Once again, I have to tip my cap to Sycamore – they played a solid game and I’m not too sure they deserve to lose like that, but we came alive at the right time and I commend my kids for that. They never gave up.”
The Spartans (5-10-1, 2-5 in Northern Illinois Big 12) got all six of their hits from three different players. Reynolds, who took the loss, went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two doubles, Hannah Mizgalski was 2 for 4 with a double and Amanda Swedberg went 2 for 3 with a pair of singles. Lexi Gordon added an RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the first for the Spartans, who led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth before Levine hit a two-run homer to left field.
“You let them back in it and we have to play cleaner defensively, obviously,” said Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter, whose Spartans made four errors in the game, including two in the seventh. “You’d like to see them earn it down the stretch instead of having it come down to a wild pitch, but we had opportunities to score earlier in the game and we have to be able to execute a little bit offensively.”
The Barbs threatened in the bottom of the sixth, getting runners on second and third with one out while trailing 4-2, but Reynolds forced Torrie Newport to line out and got Jenna Levine to ground out to second.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Barbs got an excellent at-bat from No. 9 hitter JC Longville to start the inning. After fouling off four consecutive full-count pitches, she drew a leadoff walk and eventually reached third on a single by Mackenzie Riggs to set up runners on first and third and no out.
DeKalb’s Erin Karasewski laid down a bunt to Reynolds and Longeville scored before the throw could catch her at the plate. Three batters later, Levine tied it with her RBI single.
“We called a play there with Erin at the plate with runners on first and third and we executed it well,” Davis said. “That’s exactly how it should happen. It adds pressure to their defense and it went in our favor and Rylee came up with another big hit.”
By the numbers: Riggs and catcher Skylar Haring each went 2 for 4 and Montgomery added an infield single for the Barbs. Newport picked up the win by allowing one run in 32/3 innings of relief.
Beyond the stats: Before her two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth, Levine hit a high pop-up that eventually landed in front of the batters box and initially appeared to have a single. However, the umpire ruled the ball foul and sent Levine back to the batter’s box.
They said it: “Right when JC started off with that walk, I had that feeling – I had a really good feeling this would end good,” Warner said of Longeville’s walk to start the seventh.
Up next: The Barbs host St. Charles East at 10 a.m. Saturday and the Spartans are at Prairie Ridge at 10 a.m. Saturday.