Softball: Sophia Barofsky powers Downers Grove North past Benet to reach sectional championship

Barofsky hits 3-run home run in 6-5 victory at Class 4A Marist Sectional semifinal

Downers Grove North's Ava Gusel and Sophia Barofsky

CHICAGO – Turnabout is fair play.

Especially for Downers Grove North.

After seeing Benet bang a three-run home run to take a two-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, Sophia Barofsky bashed a three-run homer of her own in the top of the seventh.

The Trojans then held on and defeated Benet 6-5 on Thursday afternoon in the second semifinal of the Class 4A Marist Sectional.

“I’m just thinking I’m not going to lose for my seniors,” said Barofsky, a junior catcher. “I’m going to do whatever I can for the team.”

Downers Grove North (24-8) advances to the sectional final for the first time since 2017. The Trojans will bid for their first sectional championship since 1979 when they play the host RedHawks, a 14-10 winner over Downers Grove South in the other semifinal, at 4:30 p.m. Friday for the sectional championship.

Benet (22-7) had won 19 of 20 games coming in, including a 4-3 victory over the Trojans on April 23. It was the final game for Redwing coach Jerry Schilf, who has been head coach since 2000.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster,” Downers Grove North coach Eric Landschoot said. “One minute you’re down and you’re stunned, and seven or eight minutes later you’re on top of the world. But that’s what makes the game great.”

The Trojans felt great with a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. But Grace Babich hit a pop-up that fell for a single and fellow senior Bridget Chapman (3-for-4) squibbed a single to the right side.

One out later, freshman Lanie Rosner had a check-swing RBI single over first base to close the Redwings within one. Junior Ashlynn Durkin, who entered to start the fifth inning, got a strikeout. But No. 9 hitter and junior first baseman Marikate Ritterbusch ripped the first pitch to center field for a three-run home run and a 5-3 lead.

But there was no quit in the Trojans. With one out in the top of the seventh, junior Libby Encina hit a pinch-hit double to center. Senior Maya Rodriguez then lined a single to center. With two on, Barofsky, who was 2 for 3 with a sacrifice, laced the second pitch she saw to left center for what proved to be the game-winning three-run homer.

“It was the second pitch and the ball just flew off my bat,” Barofsky said of her fourth homer of the season. “I just ran and when I saw it go over it was like, ‘Wow.’ It was a wow moment for sure.”

Ava Gusel, a senior lefty who started the game for Downers Grove North and reentered to get the last out in the bottom of the sixth, pitched the seventh and got the win. She surrendered a two-out single to Chapman but got a strikeout to end it. It was her seventh strikeout in 5 1/3 innings of work, four of those ended innings.

“I’m used to it,” Gusel said of being lifted for Durkin. “I trust her and she trusts me. “But I was ready to go back in if needed. I had to stay cool and calm.

“When we got behind, I said, ‘This can’t be our last game.’ We just stayed calm and collected.”

The Trojans scored twice in the first on an RBI double by sophomore Ella Bonk and an RBI single from Durkin, who started the game as the designated player.

Benet added a run in the bottom of the first on a two-out RBI single by Chapman. Rodriquez, who was 3 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored, led off the third with an infield single and scored on a two-out RBI single by senior Avery Perkins to make it 3-1.

Marist defeated the Trojans 10-3 on April 9. Benet placed third in Class 3A last season. But couldn’t advance for a rubber match meeting with the RedHawks.

“I told the kids you couldn’t take it for granted,” Schilf said. “Unfortunately it was a quick change. We played well all year. As for my retirement, I’m tired. Time passes on.”

Randy Whalen

Randy Whalen - Shaw Local News Network Correspondent

Randy Whalen is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local, covering high school sports in Will County