DeKalb's softball team scored twice in the first inning Saturday.
And with senior standout Katie Kowalski in the pitchers circle that's all the runs the top-seeded Barbs would need.
Striking out six with one walk, Kowalski tossed an impressive 2-hit shutout as DeKalb blanked second-seeded Huntley 3-0 in the championship game of the Class 4A Huntley regional.
The Barbs advance to the Jacobs sectional and will play McHenry Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
"It is certainly a sense of relief when we score in the first inning and I go out there with a lead," said Kowalski. "My location was very good all day long and I had good defense behind me."
DeKalb head coach Jeff Davis was impressed with Kowalski's effort.
"Huntley has a very good hitting team," said Davis. "Katie was awesome and really located all her pitches well. She was in control the whole game."
With a combination of the extra base hit and the short game, DeKalb was able to plate 2 runs in the first off Huntley freshman hurler Kateri Conklin.
Morgan Newport drove in the only run the Barbs needed with a run-scoring triple. Later in the inning, Newport scored on a perfectly executed safety squeeze bunt single by Lindsay Costilow.
DeKalb, which left 11 runners on base, scored an insurance run in the fourth without the benefit of a hit.
The first two hitters in the inning, Claire Koertner and Abby Taylor, were each hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. A sacrifice bunt by Erin Carazewski pushed Koertner and Taylor into scoring position at second and third. Newport was walked to load the bases and
Sarah Friedlund hit into a fielders choice but Koertner was able to score for the Barbs' third run of the game.
Huntley (20-17), which could manage only 3 baserunners in the game, got a double from Megan Baczewski for its first hit of the game in the second.
Leadoff hitter Shannon Walsh, who reached base twice, led off the fourth with a walk, moved to second on a stolen base and third on an error. But Kowalski got tough and got out of the inning without allowing a run.
"Kowalski pitched a great game," said Huntley coach Mark Petryniec. "My hats off to her. Our game plan was to score 3 runs and we thought we had a chance to win. Throughout the whole year the team never lost effort. This is a great lesson learned going into next season."