DeKalb, Katie Kowalski shut down Kaneland

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It was a rare day with the howling wind out of the southeast blowing out to center field at Kaneland, but the hits were still hard to come by for the Knight.

DeKalb claimed a 3-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East victory courtesy of strong 11-strikeout, three-hit pitching from senior Katie Kowalski and some timely hitting.

“This is the best I’ve seen Katie throw in two years, to be honest,” DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said Kowalski, a right-hander who has been plagued with injury woes that including surgery to remove a rib that was pinching veins to her arm.

“That’s like the Katie of 2011, who was striking out between eight and 13 kids per game. Games like these you don’t have to field as much and we’ve been so-so on defense. She had a great outing today.”

Lanie Callaghan led off the fourth for Kaneland (7-8, 0-2) with a shot that got up in the jet stream and cleared the fence in center to stake pitcher Angie Morrow (10 strikeouts, three walks, sixhits) to a lead.

“We had to focus on keeping the ball low,” Kowalski said. “You saw what would happen if we didn’t. Nice piece of hitting. She turned on it good.”

The Barbs (10-4, 1-1) answered in the top of the fifth, scoring all three runs with two outs on a rally started with a single from freshman Erin Karasewski, who was making her varsity debut.

Morgan Newport, who had already singled twice, drew a walk and then Sarah Friedlund and Lindsey Costlion each doubled to the fence in center and right-center, respectively. Friedlund’s drove in two runs, Costlion one.

“After watching her the last couple games I thought we’d get a little better outing,” Kaneland coach Brian Willis said of his pitcher.

“She was missing some spots. Even in the inning they scored, she missed two spots in a row where she wasn’t supposed to throw a strike and she threw it over the heart of the plate. It will hurt you.”

DeKalb stranded nine runners. Morgan Weber, who doubled to lead off the sixth, was the only Kaneland runner other than Callaghan to get past second but she was stranded at third as Kowalski worked out of a two-on, one-out jam.

Five of his batters went down on called third strikes, disappointing Willis.

“They’re told to be a lot more aggressive than that,” he said. “Until we change that habit, we’re gonna continue to struggle.”

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