Cougars ride Barrick, timely hits into 1A semis

Cougars will meet Akron-Westfield Wednesday

Inside the circle, there might not be a more imposing pitcher than Taryan Barrick.

The state’s strikeout leader added to her total with 13 on Monday, but it was the offense that really got fourth-ranked AGWSR through the first round of the Class 1A tournament at Rogers Park.

A pair of singles and Barrick reaching after being hit in the sixth led to two runs as the Cougars scored a 4-3 victory over upset-minded Janesville. Next up for AGWSR will be Akron-Westfield in the semifinals on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on Buena Vista University Diamond.

Barrick, a junior, now has 373 strikeouts on the year and counting, as she’ll play at least two more games this week. She has 25 games this season of 10-plus strikeouts, including in each of her last nine for the Cougars (27-7 overall).

“Our nerves and jitters came out early on,” Barrick said. “We couldn’t really calm them down until the last couple of innings, but I had faith in my teammates that we would come back.”

At the plate, Barrick singled in the first run in the opening inning, scoring Makenna Kuper. In the third, Kuper again scored, drawing her second walk and coming around on a passed ball.

Taylor Sperfslage and Alyssa Hames each drove in a run with singles in the sixth after Janesville took its first lead with two runs in the fifth.

Leading the way for the Wildcats (26-12) was Lily Liekweg, as she had two hits, two steals and scored a run. Grace Hovenga had a hit and drove in Naomi Hovenga. Kennedy Meister was dealt the loss, striking out eight with just four hits allowed.

Barrick, though, continued her incredible season. She scattered three hits and worked around three walks to improve to 26-5. She was right at her state-best average of 12.9 strikeouts per game entering state, and was coming of a no-hitter thrown vs. No. 10 St. Edmond in the regional final last week.

“I never have any idea how many strikeouts I have until my parents tell me after the game,” Barrick laughed. “There are just no words to describe (making the semifinals). I’m just very, very happy.”

Janesville will face New London on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. on Veterans’ Diamond in a consolation contest. The Wildcats qualified for their second state tournament with an upset of defending 1A runner-up Clarksville in the regional final, 1-0.

AGWSR 4, JANESVILLE 3

Janesville 010 020 0 – 3 3 1

AGWSR 101 002 x 4 4 2

WP-Taryan Barrick (26-5, 7 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 13 K, 3 BB). LP-Kennedy Meister (21-9, 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 8 K, 3 BB).

2B-J: Lily Liekweg, Grace Hovenga. RBI-J: Grace Hovenga; A: Taryan Barrick, Taylor Sperfslage, Alyssa Hames.

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