WATERLOO – The big inning took its time this night, hitting the snooze alarm, bowing meekly to two girls in the pitching circle who kept it firmly in its place for most of a glorious May evening.
Eventually, though, it decided to show up. And it was the Carroll Chargers who wound up benefiting.
Madison Peterson’s leadoff double to the gap started a parade of eight Carroll batters to the plate in the top of the seventh, and three more hits and two DeKalb errors later, the Chargers had everything they needed for a 4-1 victory Thursday and a 4A sectional championship.
Mackenzie DePrimio drove Peterson home with a two-out single, Jacqueline Phipps roped a single to left that got played into three bases and another RBI, and a dropped popup brought Phipps home from third to break a 1-1 tie that, for a long time, seemed it would be unbreakable.
Par for the course, according to Carroll coach Donetta Betley.
That’s kind of been our M.O. for the season, she said of her Chargers (26-3), who rapped out nine hits and got two apiece from DePrimio, Abby White and Emily Cantanzarite.
We just basically tell them it’s now or never, and usually they come through and they work together one at a time, and they just do what they have to do to get those runs across.
And after that, like as not, Katie Guebard does the rest.
The Chargers’ big arm in the pitcher’s circle walked the first batter she saw, gave up a leadoff double and an RBI single in the second, and then shut off the tap on the Barons (21-6).
After Katie Moreland’s single chased home Madison Kirkpatrick to give the Barons a 1-0 lead, Guebard settled in, giving up no more hits the rest of the way, retiring the last 16 batters in succession while striking out nine.
Given a three-run lead to work with in the bottom of the seventh, she never gave DeKalb a glimmer, inducing a fly ball to center, a popup to second and a popup to short to retire the Barons 1-2-3.
She’s been our go-to person for a couple of years now, and I have all the confidence in the world in her, Betley said. She had been struggling with using her bottom half previously and had some back issues, so we got her some rest, and she came back and found her groove and kept them off-balance for the most part.
Just feeling the moment, according to Guebard.
I just felt the energy and momentum of the game, she said. I had a lot of adrenaline at that point. I was really pumped up, and all my pitches were working really good.
And those 16 straight punch-outs to end the game?
I don’t really think too much about that, she said. I just kind of go next batter after batter and try not to think too much about stuff like that.
That sectional trophy was enough to contemplate.