Oswego catcher Jessa Garcia picked the perfect time to hit her first home run of the season.
The junior’s three-run homer in the fifth-inning broke a 4-4 tie and the Panthers held on to defeat Yorkville 7-6 to take home first place at the Fox Valley Third Annual Softball Tournament.
“That was a huge home run and it came exactly when we needed it,” said Oswego coach John Carlson. “We knew she had the power and she hit it in a time when we really needed something big. It was a huge motivator for the girls.”
Oswego took advantage of some early miscues by Yorkville and jumped out to 4-0 lead. The Foxes gave up three unearned runs as they committed four errors in the first four innings.
Yorkville evened the score with a four-run fifth inning that included RBI base hits by Corrine Rowe, Lauren Rhodes and Madeline Avery.
The Panthers quickly recaptured the lead in the bottom of the inning when Garcia’s three-run homer soared over the center field fence.
“I got a pitch down the middle and a little outside. That’s where I like it, so I just hit it,” said Garcia. “It just made me happy, because I’ve been waiting for so long to finally hit a home run.”
Rowe narrowed the Foxes’ deficit to one when she hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
The Foxes had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh inning, but Oswego (7-7) pitcher Jessica Clark was able to retire the next two Yorkville batters to seal the Panthers’ victory.
Clark pitched a complete game for the Panthers while also registering three hits at the plate.
Carlson said the Panthers played their best softball of the season in wins over West Aurora, Metea Valley and Yorkville in the Fox Valley Tournament.
“This team has played great these last three games. We hit better in this tournament than we have been all season,” said Carlson. “The girls are just playing together, they’re playing for each other.”
Yorkville (11-5) coach Kathi Dockstader said the Foxes were hindered by a lack of motivation.
“We just started things offensively a little late,” said Dockstader. “We were very motivated to play last night against Batavia, but we didn’t have that same intensity today. Oswego wanted it more than us.”
Yorkville and Oswego will play again in a doubleheader later this month and Dockstader is already looking forward to the rematch.
“The good thing about this loss is we get to play Oswego in a couple weeks in a regularly scheduled game,” said Dockstader. “We’ll definitely be up to the challenge.”
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.