Rachel MacDonald is living the dream.
Just a couple short weeks ago, MacDonald was playing on Barrington's JV team.
Now she's the Fillies' latest hero, and not just once but twice in the same week.
MacDonald, who had the game-winning hit in Barrington's sectional semifinal win on Wednesday, did it again Saturday.
The sophomore designated player hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, then drove in 2 more runs with a double in the sixth as the Fillies beat DeKalb 6-4 to win the Class 4A Jacobs sectional championship in Algonquin.
Barrington (27-11) will return home to the Fields of Dreams on Monday at 7 p.m. to face Warren, which beat Lake Zurich 12-9 Saturday, in supersectional action. The sectional championship is the Fillies' ninth in program history and eighth under 23rd-year head coach Perry Peterson. A win on Monday would give Barrington, which finished third in Class 4A last season, back-to-back trips to the state final tournament for the first time since their consecutive runner-up seasons of 2007 and 2008.
"I'm just trying to do what I can for my team," said MacDonald, who had 6 varsity at-bats coming into sectional play. "I trust my team when they're in the field and when I'm in the (batters) box I just try to do what I can. You look for a pitch you know you can hit hard. She put it down the middle and I just tried to hit it hard."
MacDonald got that pitch in the top of the fourth inning from DeKalb (27-8) senior Katie Kowalski, rocketing an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left field to give the Fillies a 3-2 lead, an advantage they never relinquished.
"She's performing in clutch situations," said Peterson of MacDonald. "She's a very good hitter and she's doing a good job handling the pressure."
Barrington took a 2-0 lead in the third on a 2-run double from senior Katie Dehnert (2-for-4) that scored Carly Kordich, who had reached on an infield single, and Taylor Moran who had done the same.
But DeKalb, playing in its third sectional final since 2010, came back and tied the game in the bottom of the inning when sophomore Morgan Newport tagged Barrington junior Keenan Dolezal (26-9) for a 2-run shot to left.
MacDonald's home run, the first of her varsity career, gave Barrington the lead for good but the Fillies' latest star wasn't done -- and Barrington needed what she provided in the sixth inning to hold off the determined Barbs.
With the Fillies nursing the 3-2 lead, sophomore Kelly Katis led off the sixth inning with a single to left field and stopped at third on a double to the fence in left from freshman catcher Rachel Krzysko. MacDonald then ripped a double to left, her third hit of the game, to score Katis and courtesy runner Jenna Privatsky to make it a 5-2 game. Privatsky advanced to third on Kat Panos' fly out to right then scored on a groundout by pinch-hitter Liz Sweeney.
The Barbs came back to score twice in the bottom of the inning, using 2 Barrington errors to help them draw to within 6-4. They got a runner to second in the seventh but just as she did in the sectional semifinal win over Rockton Hononegah, Dolezal found a little extra juice and got a groundout to third and lazy fly to left to end the game and send the Fillies home for the Elite Eight round.
"We made (Dolezal) work but she held her composure well," said DeKalb coach Jeff Davis. "We tip our hat to her and wish Barrington luck. You always hear about Barrington softball and it would have been nice to beat them but we played well."
"I really wanted to finish for my team," said Dolezal, who allowed 5 hits and 2 earned runs. "I knew once we got two outs this was ours. "(DeKalb) really battled but we've been practicing really hard and our coaches really help us get ready for these big games."
Of which the Fillies will have another on Monday.
"I'm just really proud of the kids and the resiliency they've shown," said Peterson. "They've learned a lot of lessons this year and the lessons are paying off."
Peterson admitted this is becoming one of his most satisfying seasons, one that has had its growing pains through 11 regular-season losses.
"It's about these kids and our team and the battling they've done," he said. "It's day 97 of the softball season and we weren't at this stage on day 30 or day 60. We just keep progressing, and I'm looking forward to day 98."
With one more win, that progression will mean yet another trip to East Peoria for the Fillies.