HAMPSHIRE – Reese Hunkins had just given Huntley a one-run lead against Barrington in the seventh inning of Wednesday's Class 4A Hampshire Sectional semifinal when the Red Raiders' home-run leader, Teagan O'Rilley, stepped up with the bases loaded and two outs.
After fouling off eight pitches against Barrington's Jackie Albrecht, O'Rilley drove a ball over the right-center field fence, scoring Kendra Mitchell, Hunkins and Sofia Tenuta.
O'Rilley's teammates celebrated the third baseman's first career grand slam – and program-record 15th homer of the season – at home plate, waving their hands to the left and then to the right as O'Rilley rounded third and touched home.
Sophomore Briana Bower pitched around a lead-off hit in the bottom half, and the Raiders beat Barrington, 6-1, to claim a spot in Saturday's sectional final against McHenry.
Barrington (30-5) had eliminated the Raiders (31-7) from the postseason in each of the past three seasons, including the last two sectional finals. Huntley is looking for its first sectional title.
"We beat one of the best teams in state," said Huntley coach Mark Petryniec, whose Raiders fell to Barrington, 10-8, in March. "We were patient and set the table for one big hit, and what an at-bat by Teagan."
Like many of her teammates, O'Rilley did not have much success against Barrington in past meetings.
That all changed Wednesday.
"I just wanted to poke one through and get an insurance run for my team," O'Rilley said of her seventh-inning at-bat. "When I was looking up, I was just kind of hoping. I didn't think it was really going to happen. I've never hit a really good ball against them."
Hunkins gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead in the seventh with an infield single that deflected off the glove of shortstop Katherine Stagnito, whose diving attempt came up short but kept the ball in the infield.
Lindsey Morgan started the top of the seventh with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Marley Reicher. Zielinski and Mitchell both followed with singles to load the bases for Hunkins.
"I was looking up the middle on the ground," said Hunkins, a freshman. "I'm just happy for the seniors. I know they really wanted this."
Huntley took a 1-0 lead in the third on a one-out single from Tenuta, scoring Zielinski. Barrington tied the game, 1-1, with two outs in the fifth on a single from Ellie Wintringer, scoring Brynn Nevers, who doubled.
Barrington had three of its four hits against Bower in the fifth. She had 14 strikeouts with no walks, throwing 76 of 97 pitches for strikes. Against the Fillies in March, she allowed a season-high 10 runs.
"Barrington is a great hitting team," said Bower, who moved to 23-5 with a 1.11 ERA and 315 strikeouts in 183 1/3 innings. "I knew I had to give my best stuff against them and I was feeling it today. I had a little rest and time to go over what happened last time. This win feels amazing."
STAR OF THE GAME
Teagan O’Rilley, Huntley, jr., 3B
O’Rilley hit her first career grand slam with two outs in the seventh to give the Red Raiders a 6-1 lead.
15: Huntley has won 15 straight games going into Saturday’s sectional final against McHenry.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Four-year starter Sofia Tenuta was on the losing end of three sectional losses to Barrington before Wednesday. “It’s amazing,” Tenuta said. “I have so much adrenaline right now.”
Class 4A Hampshire Sectional
Huntley 6, Barrington 1
Huntley 001 000 5 – 6 8 1
Barrington 000 010 0 – 1 4 0
WP:Bower (7IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 14K). LP:Albrecht (7IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 5K).
Top hitters–Huntley: O’Rilley 2-4 (GS, 4RBI, R), Hunkins 2-4 (RBI, R), Tenuta 1-3 (RBI, R), Mitchell 1-4 (R), Zielinski 2-3 (SB, R). Barrington: Nevers 1-3 (2B, R), Wintringer 1-2 (RBI).