Softball: Kavanagh, Muno power Barrington to MSL title over Buffalo Grove

The slugging Barrington Fillies added to their growing number of record home runs and Mid-Suburban League championships on Thursday at the Fields of Dreams.

Sophomore catcher Emma Kavanagh's and junior first baseman Ainsley Muno's team-high 14th homers of the season staked the state-ranked Fillies (26-4) to a 3-0 lead after one inning and they never looked back while winning an unprecedented 16th MSL title with an 8-4 triumph over visiting East champion Buffalo Grove (22-4).

The Bison (22-4) had won 16 games in a row, including a 5-2 win at Barrington on May 2.

"I think this time we worked better as a team," said Fillies junior ace Allie Goodwin (22-4), who tossed a 7-hitter with 9 strikeouts. "We were more positive. We came out a little flat the first time we played them. This time, we had more energy and I think it really showed."

The Fillies showed their home run prowess early as Kavanagh (2-run blast scored Brynn Nevers who reached on an error) and Muno went back-to-back over the center field fence.

It was the Fillies' 65th and 66th homers of the season, leaving them 6 shy of the state record of 72 (Oak Park in 2018).

"I couldn't be more proud of my team," said Kavanagh, who went 2-for-3 with a big 2-run single to center in the Fillies' big 5-run second inning which led to an 8-0 cushion. "Our first loss to them definitely motivated us even more so I thought we did really well and performed. For me, it's 'see ball, hit ball.' It's don't overdo it. Kate (Ryan, the Bison junior ace) is a fantastic pitcher. We know she's going to spin it around us and not throw it right down the pike. So we just had to square it up, make hard contact."

Goodwin also had an RBI single to right in the second inning. Other key at-bats were an infield single by Teagan Buckley, a bunt single by Amanda Glowacki and a sacrifice bunt by Lexi Thomas. Nevers reached on an error for the second straight inning and the senior leadoff batter also had a base hit to lead off the Fillies' fourth, but Ryan got the next three batters in order.

In fact, the lefthander retired nine of the last 10 batters she faced, holding Barrington scoreless in its final four innings.

Having possibly the best game of her career at that plate, BG senior third baseman Kim Stuercke went 3-for-3 with two solo home runs over the center field fence and a 2-run single in the top of seventh that got BG to within 8-4. Jenna Kosnoff and Hannah Hull, who caught for the sidelined JJ Jakosalem (may return from hamstring injury next week), each singled to begin the sixth for BG.

"That was amazing," said BG coach Caitlin Carpenter said of Stuercke's big day. "I believe she only had one homer in two previous seasons. It's crazy.

"We play St. Viator (Friday) so we can just jump right back on the horse and just keep playing strong and we'll just try to ride this right into the regional."

Oklahoma State recruit Angelina Craig had BG's only other extra base hit with a double to right center in the fourth.

"We all started hitting at the end," said Stuercke, Buffalo Grove's Female Athlete of the Year who now has five homers for the season. "We want to go as far as we can and do it as a team. We can't do it by ourselves. We all have to be together and keep getting wins and go as far as we can."

Carpenter, 40-14 in two seasons, was proud of BG's first appearance in a title game since 2014.

"Even though we didn't get the results we wanted, we are so happy and proud of what the girls did today," she said. "This is just a steppingstone to our bigger goal so we are extremely proud of winning the East Division and doing what we needed to do all season. We played another great game against a great team so I'm incredibly proud of these girls."

As was Peterson with his group.

"For the last 17 days (since BG loss), we evaluated what we needed to get better at and today we were a little bit better," said Barrington hall of fame coach Peterson, a winner of 901 games and 14 MSL crowns. "There's always room for improvement in this game and I'm super proud of our kids for making those improvements for today's competition. And now we just have to keep doing that as we move forward."

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