Conant senior Kim Jacobson would be considered a student of the game.
"I always used to take notes on everything, what to do in certain situations as the runner, as the batter, as the fielder," she said. "I still have the playbook I used to write things in when I was 11 years old."
Cougars coach CathyAnn Smith was made well aware of Jacobson's passion for the game.
"When Kim was a freshman, she'd bring a piece of paper to practice and write everything down," Smith recalled. "And she asked questions all the time."
Well, there's no question who the Cougars' hitting star was in Wednesday's first semifinal of the Class 4A Barrington sectional.
It was a noteworthy performance indeed by the Creighton-bound Jacobson.
She belted a pair two-out, 3-run homers to left-center field as Conant topped the host Fillies 8-1 to advance to Saturday's 11 a.m. sectional title game.
Top-seeded Conant (33-3) will face the winner of today's semifinal between No. 2 Elk Grove (28-8) and No. 3 Fremd (30-7).
It was the second time in one game that Jacobson had hit 2 home runs. She did it once as a junior
Jacobson's first blast on Wednesday came in the first inning.
Allie Bauch had doubled with one out and Miranda Cavin (2-for-4, 2 walks) drew a walk after a sacrifice bunt by Rachel O'Malley.
"They had walked Miranda in front of me the last time we played (Conant won 7-1 in nine innings) and it worked in their favor," said first baseman Jacobson. "This time it didn't. It was awesome to win this time because everyone was telling us how hard it is to beat a team three times.
"The school was so supportive of us. Everyone was saying 'good luck, good luck' "
Jacobson's homers were not luck.
"I had been working hard on my hitting," Jacobson said. "My dad was making sure I went to all my lessons (at the Schaumburg Sports Complex)."
Jacobson (3-for-4, 6 RBI) also showed she can play small ball, laying down a perfect bunt single to load the bases in the fifth inning.
"Kim was struggling for a while during the season but she came out with confidence," Smith said. "We knew she wanted to do some big things for us this game. That bunt was instrumental, too."
Conant went ahead 4-1 in the fourth when a sacrifice fly by winning pitcher Briana Cavin (30-2) allowed Sarah Thompson to tag up at third base and score.
Thompson had led off the inning with a base hit to left.
Telly Hunter singled up the middle and a one-out bunt single by Barb Linderman loaded the bases.
The lead went to 5-1 in the fifth when Rachel O'Malley and Miranda Cavin drew leadoff walks followed by Jacobson's key bunt. O'Malley came home on a two-out single by Megan Reff.
Jacobson the belted her second 3-run blast with two outs in the sixth with O'Malley and Miranda Cavin on base to make it 8-1.
Briana Cavin finished with a 6-hitter and 9 strikeouts while throwing to her sister Miranda.
"Those Cavins sisters, they're good," said Fillies first baseman Jordan Wekony, who got Barrington's first hit in the second inning. "They know how to play. And they have clutch hitters. We did not expect (Jacobson) to hit two homers."
Barrington (30-8) scored its only run in the third inning when junior Tess Bolger led off with a homer over the left field fence.
"You've got to give credit to Conant," said Fillies coach Perry Peterson, who used three pitchers (Cassidy Kraimer, Emma Woods and Keenan Dolezal). "My hat's off to them. There is a reason they were the top team in the Mid-Suburban League."
Peterson had nothing but praise for his seven seniors.
"We feel great about how they represented the school," he said. "They were very dedicated and all made equal contributions. They should all walk away feeling proud of what they accomplished for the program."
Peterson said injuries and deaths in the families took their toll.
"There were 76 times where a student-athlete had to miss a game for some reason," Peterson said. "But our kids are resilient. That's the thing about Barrington District 220. It creates resilient kids. And I think our kids were resilient in dealing with the challenges of life as they still won 30 games.
"I felt we had a lot of great kids who checked their egos at the door. It was a terrific season. They have a lot to be proud of."