With a sparkling 21-1 record, the Conant softball team hasn't found itself trailing on the scoreboard too often when it has come up for its final at-bat.
But that was exactly the situation the Mid-Suburban League West leaders faced on Wednesday at the Fields of Dreams.
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Trailing Barrington 3-1, Cougars junior first baseman Hailey Rothstein led off the top of the seventh with a walk.
The Cougars proceeded to make a seventh-inning rally look like old hat.
They scored 3 runs to take a 4-3 lead and sophomore Kali Schumacher completed a 5-hitter by retiring the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to put the Cougars in the driver's seat for a third West crown in four years.
With two conference games left, the Cougars (13-1) hold a 2-game lead over Barrington (21-9, 11-3) and Schaumburg (19-7, 11-3) in the West.
"This was a definitely a team effort," said Cougars senior third baseman Rachel O'Malley.
Freshman Lauren Grzelak followed Rothstein's walk with a bunt single, moving pinch runner Kim Zaucha to second base.
Leadoff batter Elisa Ambrose (3-for-4, 2 RBI) then singled to score Zaucha. Grzelak went to third and Ambrose to second with an error on the hit.
Another error allowed Dee Durr to reach first base, giving the visitors the bases loaded with no outs.
O'Malley then stepped into the batter's box.
The slugging third baseman belted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Grzelak with the tying run.
"I hadn't been doing it earlier in the game so I had to pull through," O'Malley said.
Ambrose alertly raced to third on O'Malley's game-tying sacrifice fly.
She then raced home on a wild pitch before Barrington ace Keenan Dolezal (5 strikeouts) retired the final two batters of the inning with a strikeout and groundout back to the mound.
"I had confidence in our hitters," Ambrose said. "But I knew if the ball got past, I had to score."
And that's exactly what Ambrose did, sending the Cougars into Friday's game with Fremd one win from a conference title.
"Our next two opponents (Fremd and Schaumburg) are really good teams," Ambrose said. "So we've got to come out strong for them."
Schumacher was strong for her sixth victory without a defeat this season. The sophomore right-hander had 2 strikeouts and no walks.
"I thank my catcher (Dream Aaron) for most of that," Schumacher said. "She really helped me out."
Senior shortstop Erin Ward (2-for-4) helped get the Fillies on the scoreboard first when she doubled to left to lead off the bottom of the first.
A sacrifice bunt by Carly Kordich and sacrifice fly by Jen Inamoto (1-for-2, 2 RBI) made it 1-0.
The Fillies gained a 3-0 in the third when Ward led off with a single to center and Kordich reached on an error.
Inamoto followed with her second RBI, a single to right, and Katie Dehnert added a sacrifice fly to center to get home Kordich.
"We respect Barrington so much," O'Malley said. "At the beginning of the game they wanted it more than us."
The Cougars got on the board in the top of the fifth as Kim Neuman led off with a single to right and came home on Ambrose's infield single with two outs making it 3-1.
The Fillies prevented another run in the sixth when catcher Rachel Krzysko (double) flipped the ball to Dolezal (20-8), who put the tag on a runner trying to score on a wild pitch.
"Coming here to Barrington is always tough," said Cougars coach CathyAnn Smith, who has guided the Cougars to their seventh 20-win season in her 14 years. "We knew it would be one of the toughest games we'd play. Every one of Perry's (Peterson, Barrington coach) girls knows the game and how to play in pressure situations.
"I'm just so proud of my girls and how they don't give up."
"Congratulations to Conant," Peterson said. "They deserved to win the game.
"We've got to put this behind us and move on to the next game."