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updated: 5/16/2013 8:58 PM

Kaneland repeats conference title

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Kaneland has decorated its left-field fence with softball decals featuring the names and numbers of its senior players.

The Knights surely did it as a way to honor those seniors, though those big, oversized yellow softballs served a second purpose for Allyson O'Herron -- target practice.

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The Kaneland shortstop, who was brilliant in the field all day, continued her hot hitting by lining a double off her name on that left-field fence in the Knights' 4-0 victory over DeKalb.

O'Herron, who hit the first two homers of her career in the past week, finished 2-for-3.

"I was aiming for it," joked O'Herron afterward. "I got a new bat, I don't know if that's it. I am swinging through more than I used to. I used to be a contact hitter, I just wanted to put the ball in play. Now I started swinging through because it works, apparently."

The win gave Kaneland (21-3, 9-1) the outright Northern Illinois Big 12 East championship, the Knights' second straight.

"It's incredible," O'Herron said. "It's a great year here at Kaneland. We've won a lot of stuff, it's been a great couple years. To be a part of it and to represent our school and to win, it's just a great feeling."

DeKalb (19-8, 7-3) could have forged a tie for the title but the Barbs never solved Ellissa Eckert, who tossed a 2-hit shutout, striking out three and walking just one.

"Every time we called on her last year in a backup role for Delany (Vest) she was outstanding," Kaneland coach Brian Willis said. "I guess there were a lot of doubters out there because Delaney took the spotlight last year but when we prepared for the season we prepared like we had a solid pitcher. She's not going to blow people away, we know that. But she's going to throw strikes and you can see how good our defense is."

DeKalb, meanwhile, made a couple errors that helped Kaneland take a 1-0 lead in the first. The Knights pushed their lead to 3-0 on Lanie Callaghan's RBI double to plate O'Herron who had doubled. Lexi Roach, who bunted for a hit to start the rally, scored on a passed ball.

Callaghan capped the scoring in the sixth with her second home run of the season well over the center-field fence.

"I went up there knowing I had to get on base any way I can for my team because 3-0 is really not that big of a lead," Callaghan said. "That pitch was perfect. It felt so good off my bat."

Callaghan and O'Herron combined for 4 of Kaneland's 5 hits, and after the game the team celebrated their conference title with ice cream.

"I'm happy for the girls," Willis said. "We're 50-10 last 60 games and I don't think anybody would ever know it. I'm proud of them. They work hard and they deserve everything they get.

"It shows the character of the girls we still have and the work we've done with this program. The coaches, parents and all the players have been committed to working hard and they know if they work hard the results will come. We work hard, we play hard, we leave it all on the field, and good things happen to good teams."

Only Yorkville, in a game Kaneland let slip away with four seventh-inning errors, stood between the Knights and a perfect conference record. DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said his team took too many strikes Thursday.

"We're a good softball team," Davis said, "they were better today."

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