Softball: Simandl's walk-off in HR in 11th sends Huntley past Barrington, back to state
Huntley senior Abby Simandl couldn't have picked a better time to hit her first home run of the season.
Simandl put the finishing touches on a wild 6-5 victory in 11 innings over Barrington on Monday in the Class 4A Barrington Supersectional with a home run over the right-center field fence at Barrington's Field of Dreams, sending the Red Raiders (34-6) back to the state tournament.
Huntley won the state title in 2019 but was unable to defend its title last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has never been a 4A softball team to win state titles in consecutive seasons.
"I just really wanted to give it my all for the team because we've all been working so hard," said Simandl, who also was on the 2019 state championship team. "I had the craziest adrenaline rush the entire game. I just wanted to give it my all, because [Huntley starting pitcher Briana Bower] is working so hard, and we're all putting all of our best effort in. I just wanted to do it for the team."
Bower, a Mississippi State commit, and Barrington's Jackie Albrecht, a North Dakota commit, each went the distance Monday. Bower struck out 16 in 11 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits and four walks. Albrecht allowed six runs (five earned) on 15 hits, striking out seven and walking two.
Barrington was trying to get to the state tournament for the first time since 2017. The Fillies end the season at 33-2. Huntley and Barrington have met in the postseason in each of the past five seasons, with the Raiders winning the last two.
"Hats off to a class program. That was a battle," Huntley coach Mark Petryniec said of Barrington. "We knew that we were going to punch, and they were going to punch us back. Bri going, Jackie going, huge hitters on both sides, and our senior [Simandl] coming up big."
Huntley held a 5-3 lead going into the top of the seventh inning, but Barrington scored two runs on a solo home run by Allie Goodwin and later on an error. Huntley catcher Lindsay Morgan tried to throw out a runner stealing third, but appeared to have trouble throwing around the batter, and tossed the ball away, which allowed Emma Kavanagh to score from third.
The two teams went scoreless the rest of the way until Simandl's game-winning blast.
"It feels amazing. Round 2. Very excited," Simandl said about getting back to state. "It's my senior year and I have a lot of girls on this team, we've been playing for years together, and I'm just really happy to get another shot at it."
For Huntley, Katie Mitchell had two hits and drove in one, Marley Reicher had two hits, a run and an RBI, Clara Hudgens had a double and run scored, Jori Heard drove in a run, and Madi Smith added an RBI.
For Barrington, Ainsley Muno was 3 for 6 with a double, a run scored and an RBI, Brynn Nevers had two hits and a run scored, and Albrecht had a double and two RBI.