SYCAMORE – Lauren Gates led off the top of the fourth by reaching on an error, and the DeKalb softball team seemed poised to eat into Sycamore’s two-run lead Friday.
Izzy Aranda followed with a screaming liner to center, but Addie McLaughlin ranged into the gap, snagged it and threw to first to complete the double play. And when McLaughlin came to the plate in the bottom of the inning, she had a key hit in a nine-run outburst for the Spartans, who won the rivalry contest, 11-0.
“It felt great. It felt amazing,” McLaughlin said. “I feel like it [carried over] amazing with our energy. We went bat to bat, just pass the bat.”
Thanks to McLaughlin’s play in center, the Spartans (19-13) preserved their 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth. DeKalb (2-22) committed three errors in the inning, and the only two earned runs DeKalb freshman starter Ayla Gould gave up were on a single by McLaughlin.
“She’s freshman, and she’s going to do really great things for us over the course of her career,” Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter said. “That was a great pick-me-up because we had the oopsies at first base, that’s how that girl was on. And she knew right away. I didn’t have to yell one or anything. She could see that probably in her line of sight and threw a BB. And then she comes up and good things happen at the plate.”
Chelsea Born drove in an unearned run in the first, hitting a sacrifice fly that scored Thea Boubin, who reached on an error. In the third, Tia Durst started the inning with a double, then Born drove her in on a single.
Gould allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out one. She allowed three earned runs.
“I was superhappy with Ayla,” DeKalb coach Haley Albamonte said. “She was hitting her spots. I thought the [strike] zone kind of got small on us, so she was forced to throw it over the plate. She’s a freshman, and she’s learning and growing. Standing tall on the mound like that is a huge learning experience for her.”
Becca Allen pitched four scoreless innings for the Spartans, allowing one hit, two walks and striking out one. Alyssa Wilkerson pitched a perfect fifth in relief for Sycamore. McLaughlin was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Bella Barker had the only hit for DeKalb, which had a runner on in each of the first four innings but could not score. Albamonte said the team not only needs more pop at the plate, but needs to cut down on its errors, especially with only one pitcher on the roster.
“With only one arm in the circle, we can’t give away anything,” Albamonte said. “I really harp on errors to them, especially basic routine plays. Those don’t help, it just ups our pitch count and obviously doesn’t help not getting any outs. Little frustrated with some of that, but we have to clean that up and just focus on what’s coming next.”
The Barbs will open their home Class 4A regional Tuesday against Huntley, one of the top-ranked teams in the state. Sycamore opens its 3A regional against Belvidere in Freeport.
Carpenter said she liked closing the regular season against the Barbs and hopes to continue that into the future.
“It has the feel of that postseason game,” Carpenter said. “The kids treat it like the World Series for crying out loud most of the time. Even if you try to slow it down, it’s a good competition, and you get that playoff feel. I’d like to think [Albamonte] and I will continue to try to do that.”