Huntley softball rallies past Freeport

ROSEMONT – The Huntley softball team's philosophy for its game Wednesday against Freeport at the Dome in Rosemont was to score in every inning.

It was a lofty goal after the Red Raiders lost to DeKalb in the morning during which they scored only two runs. But Huntley coach Mark Petryniec believed his team was capable of stringing together hits, and his team proved him right.

Although the Red Raiders trailed by five runs through two innings, they rallied to score 12 runs over the next five innings to cruise to a 14-8 win against Freeport. Huntley (1-2) scored in every inning, including a five-run sixth inning, to blow the game open.

"We put ourselves in a hole, and we knew we had to hit our way out of it," Petryniec said. "They don't look down on themselves. ... They were resilient and didn't quit."

Freeport (0-2) seized a 7-2 lead after two innings, however the Red Raiders fought back. They cut the Pretzels' lead to one with a three-run fourth inning and took the lead in the fifth.

Junior Shannon Walsh tied the game at 7 with a two-out RBI single, and Huntley went ahead on Jessica Shields' RBI single to score Walsh for an 8-7 lead. Walsh, Huntley's leadoff hitter, went 6 for 6 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

"It's a great lineup for us to have a bunch of speed and our power hitters to all work together and drive in the runs," Walsh said. "Now that we have this first win we're going to take that momentum, and we're all going to work together the rest of the season."

The Red Raiders put the game away in the sixth, when they sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs. Megan Larson (2 for 4 with two RBIs) started the inning with a towering home run to right field.

The next three Red Raiders reached base – one on an error by the Freeport left fielder, which allowed a run to score – and Brittany Koss, Shields and Tamara Funke came through with runners on base, each recording an RBI single to put them ahead, 13-7. Koss finished with three RBIs while Shields went 5 for 6.

"Hitters are always slow in the beginning part of the year, so I was happy with how we came out hitting the ball, but we kind of cooled off there," Freeport coach Jeff Sands said.

After pitching earlier in the day against DeKalb, Spannraft, Huntley's junior ace, bolstered the Red Raiders in relief when she entered the game with two outs in the second. Freeport was leading 7-2, but Spannraft got out of the inning without any more runs scoring and allowed only four hits in her 5 1/3 innings. Spannraft (1-2) allowed only one run and struck out four with two walks.

Petryniec started freshman Kateri Conklin to "get her feet wet" at the varsity level and was impressed by Spannraft's relief effort. The production of Huntley's top four hitters in the lineup, who went a combined 16 for 22 against the Pretzels with nine RBIs and six runs, also impressed Petryniec.

"Offensively it's nice to be clicking this early in the season," Petryniec said. "We've got to fix our defense though. We can't be making this many errors and expect to win a ballgame."