By Bob Balgemann


Harlem’s baseball and softball teams are off to a rousing start in postseason play, especially the Lady Huskies who routed Rockford East, 14-1 and DeKalb, 6-1, to win a regional championship. Add to that their finishing 18-0 in NIC-10 play as they claimed this year’s championship.

Meanwhile, the Huskies won a 10-8 thriller from DeKalb in their regional opener to move on to round two, against top-seeded Huntley, on June 7.

The Lady Huskies, 25-1 overall and the No. 1 seed in Sub-Sectional B, were back in action June 8 against the second seed, McHenry (19-9). The winner will play for the sectional title at 4:30 p.m. today (Thursday), probably at the Harlem Community Center complex off Forest Hills Road. That will pit either Harlem or McHenry against whoever wins the game between Jacobs (20-6), the top seed in Sub-Sectional A, against third-seeded Huntley (30-6).

A rematch between Harlem and Barrington (31-1) looms on the horizon, in the June 14 supersectional at Barrington, if both play out as predicted in coming games. That contest would match the winners of Sectional 1 and Sectional 2, with Harlem and Barrington being the top seeds in each of those divisions.

The two met in the sectional finals in 2015, which Barrington won, 4-0, on its way to a fourth-place finish at state.

So far this year the Fillies have won over St. Charles East, 4-2, which is the only team to defeat the Lady Huskies, 2-1, on May 22.

In winding down toward the playoffs, Harlem wrapped up the regular season on May 29 by edging Belvidere, 3-2, to sweep that two-game series following its earlier 2-0 win. Senior Cheyenne Nietz remained undefeated on the mound, this day collecting 13 strikeouts.

Offensively, Haley Bibby delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning, driving in Kya Steiner, who had three hits that day. Makayla Howard also had a multi-hit game.

Baseball results 

In a game where the two teams combined to commit more errors (15) than collecting base hits (13), Harlem took greater advantage of the DeKalb miscues to win the regional opener, 10-8, at home on June 4.

The Huskies jumped off to a 6-1 lead after two innings of play only to see the Barbs come back twice, to within 6-5 and, finally, to within 10-8. But after DeKalb had sliced the deficit to two runs, relief pitcher James Cooper Jr. threw just four pitches and struck out the only batter he faced, in the top of the seventh inning, to preserve the win.

Harlem scored in three of the six innings and each time set the tone by its leadoff batter getting on base.

Cooper Gillette did so in the bottom of the second inning when the Barbs committed six of its game-leading eight errors to help the Huskies score six runs. They scored most of their runs before the first out was made.

Here’s how it went:

Cooper was the next batter and he doubled, sending courtesy runner Caden Washatka to third. Eli Barefield followed with a single, scoring Washatka to match the single run DeKalb put on the board to start the game. Garrett Hockison was at the plate when Barefield stole second and on the same play, Cooper scored on the Barbs’ first muff of the inning to make it a 2-1 game. Hockison followed by reaching on another error, bringing in Barefield with the third run. Consecutive errors on balls hit by Jacob Cunitz and Henderson produced a 4-1 advantage.

A balk entered the picture moments later, and that allowed Cunitz to score Harlem’s fifth run. Two more errors, which were sandwiched between the first two outs of the inning, allowed Henderson to score and produce the 6-1 lead.

Harlem saw DeKalb pull to 6-5 on the strength of a four-run fourth inning, but managed to retaliate with a singleton in the bottom of the fourth on a double by Henderson, another error and an infield out by Nathan Nelson, which scored Henderson.

Three insurance runs were plated in the bottom of the sixth inning after Lucas Burbach walked to start things off. Another walk, this one to Henderson, and a two-run single by Javier Garcia increased the margin to four runs. And it became a 10-5 game on an RBI double by Kadin Bergstrom.

But DeKalb created some heartburn for the home folks with its three-spot in the top of the seventh that was finally silenced by the big Cooper strikeout.

Harlem used three pitchers in this game with Garcia, the first in relief of starter Nelson, being credited with the win.

Henderson had another productive day as the Huskies’ leadoff man, going 1-for-3 with a double and scoring three runs. Garcia was the only one in the lineup with two hits and Cunitz, who went 0-for-2, still managed to score twice.

Buy Viagra Overnight Delivery USA.