DeKALB – DeKalb softball coach Haley Albamonte said to her walks basically are errors.
In the pivotal fifth inning for Rockford Auburn on Wednesday, the Barbs walked the first two Knights’ batters. Those two walks, plus two errors, led to four runs for the Knights in a 6-4 loss for the Barbs.
DeKalb (0-1) led 4-1 after four innings behind seven hits, including a home run by Hazel Montavon and a pair of RBIs for Izzy Aranda. But the Knights (1-0) got four runs in the top of the fifth inning, of which only two were earned.
“I was happy with what I saw,” Albamonte said. “I think we have a lot of pieces. If our pitchers hit their spots a little more consistently, I’m happy with what I’m seeing offensively. We’ll move a few things around defensively. But we have those options. We have a lot of athletes on our roster this year, so we can make necessary changes to be successful later on.”
Ayla Gould pitched the first two innings for the Barbs, allowing a walk as her only blemish. Jaelyn Latimer came in to pitch the third, gave up a run in the fourth, then allowed the first two batters reach in the fifth on walks.
Anna Viel loaded the bases on an infield single, then Jalen Yakey and Abigail Race followed with RBI singles to chase Latimer. Gould came back in the game and induced a popup that was misplayed in right by Sydney Miles, allowing two more runs to score.
With runners at second and third and no outs, Gould induced a groudner to Aranda at third, who threw to first after freezing the runner, Race. Race still decided to try and score, but Kayla Bruhn threw her out, and the Knights didn’t score again.
The Knights tacked on another run in the sixth behind two errors, both by Aranda. Albamonte said overall she was happy defensively, especially with Aranda in her first game at the hot corner – in the first inning she got all three outs for the Barbs.
“I thought Ayla did a good job on the mound,” Albamnote said. “She started the game strong then got put in a not-great position. Walks are going to kill us, so we need to minimize those. Izzy Aranda, she had that one rough throw to first, but she’s never played third before. She made the good play to freeze that runner, throw to first then got the out at home. I saw some good things.”
The Barbs seemed poised for a bigger inning in the third after Montavon’s homer put them up 3-0. Gould ripped a double to deep right-center, then Abby Stoffa appeared to homer to left-center. But the umpire called Gould out for leaving the base early and Stoffa had to continue her at-bat and ending up striking out.
“I think we have a great team, great attitude, and today showed they’re going to fight through anything,” Auburn coach Jessica Palos said. “It was really nice to see.”
DeKalb was outscored 6-1 after that and got only one more hit after getting seven in the first four innings. They also hadn’t committed an error defensively to that point before committing four in the final three innings.
“I think that changes the momentum,” Albamonte said. “Anything can happen in a game and totally change the direction. I think that call unfortunately, obviously didn’t work for us. I’ll never blame anything on a blue, it is what it is. We were still up enough, had enough of a cushion, but the walks in my mind are errors.”