ALGONQUIN – Seeded fifth in its own softball regional, Jacobs wasn't expected to make a deep postseason run.
Yet after one inning in the Class 4A Jacobs Regional final against No. 2 DeKalb, the Golden Eagles built momentum with a 2-0 lead. The hard-hitting Barbs weren't going to watch their season end without a fight, however, and came out swinging in the second inning. DeKalb got three two-out hits, leading to five runs in the second, and added six more runs in the third in a 12-2 victory in five innings against Jacobs to win the regional title.
"I told our girls that we exceeded a lot of expectations this week, and that's all you can do: play above what people think," Jacobs coach Jeremy Bauer said. "That's a real testament to your team and perseverence. Unfortunately the magic ran out."
DeKalb (22-8) didn't waste much time answering after Jacobs (18-15) took a two-run lead. Every batter hit in the five-run second, but the big inning nearly didn't happen. Battling a small strike zone that both teams endured, Jacobs starting pitcher Kelsey Peters was a strike away from escaping a bases loaded, two-out situation.
However, DeKalb drew a bases-loaded, full-count walk to bring in a run and on the ensuing pitch, freshman Morgan Newport cleared the bases with a double to put the Barbs ahead, 4-2. Junior Lindsey Costlow followed with a run-scoring double to cap their five-run inning.
"We adjusted well and knew we were going to hit the ball hard," Barbs coach Jeff Davis said. "That was a big inning for us in bunches and that's pretty awesome. That was really nice. It's good to have the [regional title] plaque in our hands."
DeKalb starting pitcher Katie Kowalski settled down after Jacobs scored two runs in the first, not allowing a hit in the final four innings. A tight strike zone led to plenty of walks for both teams, which combined for 13 walks in five innings.
"It did become a factor in the game, I'm not going to lie to you about that," Bauer said of the strike zone. "Both pitchers had to work through it. It was consistent, I will say that, but it was tough for the pitchers to get into a rhythm and find what they needed to find."
The Barbs refused to sit back and assume their 5-2 lead would be safe. During a six-run third inning, 11 DeKalb players batted with Sabrina Killeen recording a two-run double – one of five different players with an RBI. DeKalb's regional final win denied Jacobs its fourth consecutive regional title.
"It was really tough because [the umpire] wasn't giving the inside corner, and that's mainly where I stay – I throw on the inside corner all game," Kowalski said. "That was hard to work through ... but we came back and found a rhythm."
Offensively, Jacobs appeared patient to start the game, the first two batters of the game reaching on a walk and single. Senior Nicky Chapa drove in the first run on a ground out and Emily Borg's two-out bloop single scored another run.
But the Golden Eagles managed to get only three on base (all walks) the rest of the game with one advancing into scoring position. Despite the loss, Jacobs has a solid core returning, including freshmen Sarah Murray and Borg, though they will lose starters Chapa, Kaitlyn Woloszyk and Jacquelyn Hengler to graduation.
"We're very optimistic about the future, but some of the those seniors are irreplaceable," Bauer said.