Prep softball: Despite 10 strikeouts by Jaelyn Latimer, DeKalb season ends against Auburn

Megan Gates hits double, triple, scores in 3-2 loss

Dekalb's Calissa Hudson tries to get back into third but is tagged out by Auburn's Jalyn Yakey during their Class 4A regional game Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at DeKalb High School.

DeKALB –The No. 6-seeded DeKalb softball team was two outs away from knocking off No. 3-seeded Auburn in a Class 4A DeKalb Regional semifinal Wednesday, but two errors in the seventh inning helped the Knights scratch out a 3-2 win over the Barbs.

“It’s disappointing and frustrating,” DeKalb coach Haley Albamonte said. “But we’ll learn from it. We have mostly underclassmen that don’t have a ton of postseason experience. It’s just a different level of competition. They need to learn from it, grow from it and get ready for next year.”

“Towards the end, it was just the untimely errors,” DeKalb coach Albamonte said. “We talked about that, how they always kill us.”

—  Haley Albamonte, DeKalb softball coach

DeKalb (5-18) led 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, but Jenna Yakey started off by reaching on an error by shortstop Hazel Montavon after a nine-pitch at-bat against Jaelyn Latimer. Anna Viel followed with a bunt single, then an error by third baseman Izzy Aranda scored a run.

At the end of the play, Viel was called out at third after the run scored for what would have been the first out of the inning, but the home plate umpire overruled the call and said there was obstruction on the play.

With runners still at second and third, Latimer struck out Jalyn Yackey for out No. 1, but Lily Parr blooped a single into left to end the game.

“It was probably one of the best games we played throughout our whole season,” Latimer said. “We came together as a team. We just didn’t push enough runs across the board when we needed to.”

Latimer entered the game in relief with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the third in a scoreless game. She was hit in the side with a line drive Saturday against Sycamore, and the Barbs other regular pitcher, Ayla Gould, suffered a hand injury earlier this season.

Montavon got the start and didn’t allow a hit but walked four, including the last three batters she faced. Latimer stuck out the first six batters she faced, including the third and fourth hitters in the Auburn lineup to escape the third-inning jam.

“I just realized this could be the last game for our seniors,” Latimer said. “I just tried to put my everything out there.”

After she escaped in the third, the Barbs scored in the fourth. Sydney Myles reached on an error and Megan Gates singled. Aranda bunted them over to second and third, then Abby Stoffa flew out, scoring Myles.

The Barbs added another run in the fifth, when Lauren Gates tripled with two outs. Montavon singled her home for a 2-0 lead.

Even with singles by Aranda in the sixth and Calissa Hudson in the seventh, the Barbs weren’t able to put another run on the board.

“Towards the end, it was just the untimely errors,” DeKalb coach Albamonte said. “We talked about that, how they always kill us.”

Albamonte said Montavon isn’t really a pitcher and hasn’t gone through formal training in the circle, but was pleased with the performance. She said switching between the two was effective against the Knights.

Albamonte said Latimer was sharp and hitting her spots.

“I think we did a good job mixing up speeds and utilizing both Hazel and Jaelyn,” Albamonte said. “We weren’t sure after Saturday where Jaelyn’s arm would be at. I think it definitely kept their hitters off-balance.”

The Barbs finished with seven hits, including a double and triple for Lauren Gates. Latimer allowed five hits and didn’t surrender an earned run. She finished with 10 srikeouts.

Albamonte said it was an inconsistent year for the Barbs, and lot of that was because of injuries to Gould and Latimer – the two were healthy at the same time for about two weeks, Albamonte said.

Latimer is among the seniors graduating, a list that includes Stoffa, Hudson, Lauren Gates and Megan Gates. Albamonte said that still leaves a lot of talent coming back, although finding pitching will be imperative.

“We have a lot of talent returning,” Albamonte said. “A lot of our freshmen, I know Syndey Myles is a huge asset to our team. I’m excited to see her back on the field. Hazel and Izzy, they’ll be juniors, so two years under their belt on varsity. I think their leadership can come through. Ayla gets healthy, and we’ll see what else hopefully comes down the pipeline in terms of pitching and hopefully we can put something good together.”

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