The postseason is all about making the most of your opportunities.
Sophomore Rachel MacDonald and the Barrington softball team sure did that on Wednesday in Algonquin.
In her first start and with just six varsity at-bats under her belt, MacDonald delivered the biggest hit of her young career, a two-out, two-run, first-pitch rocket shot double to the fence in left field in the top of the fourth inning that scored sophomore Kelly Katis and senior pinch-runner senior Jenna Privatsky with the only runs junior Keenan Dolezal would need as the Fillies beat Rockton Hononegah 2-0 in the semifinals of the Class 4A Jacobs sectional.
"I just try really hard in practice to do what my coaches say. I trust them and in any situation I'm just trying to hit the ball as hard as I can, know what the count is and help my team," said MacDonald.
Dolezal and the Barrington defense did the rest. The savvy right-hander scattered 4 hits and got 10 in-the-air outs, including seven infield pop-ups, as the Fillies (26-11) advanced to Saturday's 3 p.m. championship game against DeKalb (27-7). The winner heads to Barrington's Fields of Dreams for a 7 p.m. Monday supersectional contest against either Warren or Lake Zurich.
Barrington, third in Class 4A last season, will be seeking its ninth sectional title and eighth under 23rd-year head coach Perry Peterson.
"They've persevered and never given up," said Peterson, whose team played Hononegah for the first time in his Barrington coaching career. "They've responded to us and that's what makes me so proud of them. They have the right to wear the jersey one more day. (Hononegah) was a nice team. Very impressive."
Hononegah (31-6) proved to be a formidable foe and if not for a one-out outfield error on Katis' line drive that went off the center fielder's glove, Barrington's winning inning may not have happened.
Jennifer Inamoto led off the inning drawing a walk from Hononegah sophomore left-hander Taylor Boette, who allowed just 3 hits while striking out 9 and walking 3. After a strikeout, Katis hit a drive to right center that the Indians' center fielder got to but let drop from her glove. Inamoto stopped at third and Peterson put Privatsky in to run for her. MacDonald then took Boette's first pitch to the base of the fence in left-center to score both runs.
"She's a feisty kid and she's got a great future," said Peterson of MacDonald.
Hononegah was able to get a runner to second base with one out in the second inning but Dolezal (25-9) got the first of her two strikeouts in the game and a pop up to freshman catcher Rachel Krzysko to end the inning.
The Indians also put a runner on third with two outs in the third but a groundout ended that threat. Dolezal allowed bloop singles in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings but left each runner stranded at first base.
The final out of the game came on a called third strike after Dolezal had given up a two-out single. She clearly was upset at giving up that hit and threw her two fastest pitches of the game on strike two and strike three to end the game.
"We played amazing defense behind me," said Dolezal. "I just try to get them to hit it on the ground or in the air and I know my defense will play good behind me."
"Keenan has stepped up and pitched nicely," Peterson said. "The burden has been big at times and she's stepped up. She commanded the game today."
Dolezal said that despite some early season struggles, the Fillies are now back in their element.
"The four returning varsity players knew coming in that we wanted to get back to state," she said. "We were really pumped up today and being loud. We wanted it today."