Softball: Heard fans 16 in Huntley's regional win
It was the Jori Heard show from the opening pitch as the Huntley Red Raiders dismantled the DeKalb Barbs 9-0 Tuesday in a Class 4A DeKalb regional semifinal.
Heard struck out 16 batters on her way to a perfect game against the regional hosts.
"It's good," Heard said. "It's exciting. I'm excited for what's to come and what we can achieve this year."
Heard opened the game with three strikeouts and went on to strike out the side in both the fourth and fifth innings.
"It's been consistent all season," Huntley coach Mark Petryniec said. "She gives us an opportunity to be successful every time she is on the mound. As coaches it makes our jobs easier."
When she wasn't dominating the circle, she was coming up big at the plate, finishing the game 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored.
The Red Raiders (29-6) opened up the game in the third inning with a five-run rally.
Already up 2-0, Red Raiders centerfielder Clara Hudgens opened the inning with a single and was immediately driven home by Heard who came up after her.
The next two batters reached on Barb errors and both came in, with Zoe Doherty scoring on a delayed steal of home with Reese Hunkins drawing the throw with a steal of second base.
"We're just a small ball team," Petryniec said. "We put the ball in play and make our adjustments. We're not a huge hitting team, so we have to manufacture runs."
The Red Raiders batted around the order in the inning with Katie Mitchell driving in the final run of the inning on a single to put the Raiders up 7-0.
The Red Raiders opened the game with two runs, with Hudgens scoring on a groundout by Hunkins and Heard scored on a single by Doherty.
The Barbs (2-23) started four freshmen in the game, including the battery mates of pitcher Ayla Gould and catcher Madison Hallaron, never found their footing against Heard at the plate and struggled to contain the Huntley offense.
"I'm pretty proud of us," DeKalb coach Haley Albamonte said. "Huntley is a top notch program and we have a lot of younger girls. I'm excited that they got to play against that and see that level of competition."
Huntley tacked on runs in the fourth and sixth inning for their final total of nine.
For the Barbs, the only highlight came when senior third baseman Emma Friedlund snagged a liner and quickly ran back to tag third base for an unassisted double play to get the Barbs out of the fourth inning.
"It's fun, obviously," Friedlund said. "And then for it to be the second and third out and getting out of the inning, it was great."
The Barbs' season came to an end without much winning, but the young players got a lot of experience that should set them up for success in the future.
"You take it as a learning year," Albamonte said. "(The freshmen) are going to take it and run with it. I think we're going to come back with a lot of experience and start at a different place. We started with raw talent."