Softball: Garden's glad to be back at Jacobs
In her first game back from COVID-19 quarantine last week, Jacobs' Delaney Garden racked up a career-high 20 strikeouts and hit a home run for good measure in a runaway win for the Golden Eagles.
Garden was back in the circle against McHenry on Wednesday, leading Jacobs to yet another victory. Garden struck out seven over the first four innings before giving way to relief pitcher Abbey Nesnidal in a 5-2 Fox Valley Conference win over the Warriors.
Garden led the game off with a single and came around to score, along with Sarah Lynch, on a two-run double by Kaitlyn Wysong.
Jacobs (11-4, 8-1 FVC) never trailed Wednesday, building a 4-0 lead over the Warriors (8-8, 5-4) after three.
Garden gave up a run on five hits and was 2-for-4 at the plate with two singles. The Lewis commit ended up missing eight games because of quarantine.
"It wasn't fun," Garden said of missing more time her senior year after last season was wiped away by the pandemic. "But they did great without me, so I'm proud of them."
Jacobs coach Katie O'Brien said Garden brings a lot of fire to the team.
"Delaney is a fierce competitor," she said. "She wants to be on the field. She loves playing and fighting. Her first game back, 20 strikeouts and a home run. You can't ask anything more from the kid.
"She comes back, we put her at top of the lineup. That spot was never taken away from her. We knew she would be working out on her own."
O'Brien said Garden was one of a handful of players forced to miss time because of quarantine. That has been a common occurrence for high school teams during the spring season, and not just limited to softball, with players forced to sit out because of contact tracing.
Getting everyone back presents a new -- and good -- challenge for O'Brien.
"Today was the first day we had almost everybody back and healthy," O'Brien said. "We're coming back from some injuries, too. It's nice to have all of them back. It also presents a new challenge for us. 'What do we do with all of them?' "
Wysong's two-out double in the first came on a full count and after the No. 3 and 4 batters were unable to drive in Garden and Lynch, who reached on a hard-struck ball that deflected off the glove of second baseman Peyton Atwater and into the outfield.
"I was trying to relax myself, be confident and hit the ball," Wysong said. "That's basically what I did. On the first pitch I swung at something over my head, so getting that hit felt really good."
McHenry was held to six hits for the game and had only one hit in the final three innings against Nesnidal, who struck out three and walked one. The Warriors received a run-scoring hit from Nevayah Munoz in the top of the fourth and scored its second run on a throwing error in the seventh.
Lynch (2 for 4) had two doubles and two runs scored, Cici Di Silvio had a double and one RBI, and Arya Patel added an RBI single for Jacobs.
McHenry coach Mikaela Mitsch said the Warriors had a good plan entering Wednesday's game, but failed to execute.
"We knew exactly what we were getting from this team in terms of their pitching," Mitsch said. "We talked about it, we have practiced it. It's no secret. We've been battling with this type of pitching all year and still were unable to do anything about it.
"We just cannot lay off those stinking rise balls. That wasn't our best and we can do better."
McHenry freshman pitcher Channing Keppy threw all six innings, giving up four earned runs on 12 hits. She struck out two and walked none. Kyra Lard and Lauren Sena each had a single and a run scored for the Warriors.