A day after Glenbrook North’s first Class 4A section semi-final, Loyola senior Mackenzie Barry struck out 18 with a 2-hit shutout and 1-0 in 8 innings against top-seeded Buffalo Grove , Warren showed he had some quality talent on the pitching mound as well.
Junior Sydney Jackson kicked off the perfect first game of her career with a 10-0 shutout against No. 10 seed Waukegan in Wednesday’s second semifinal.
Fans should expect intense softball for Saturday’s 11 a.m. championship game featuring the No. 3 Blue Devils (24-7) and No. 6 Loyola (17-12) at Northbrook.
In his masterful 12-strikeout performance, Jackson didn’t allow a ball to touch the outfield, getting two outs to third baseman Kaitlyn Weidemann for the first outs of the second and fourth innings and one pitch to the infielder. second baseman from freshman Nikki Peter for the first out of the third inning.
Everything else was a strikeout.
“I saw her in warm-ups and I was like, ‘She’s legit,'” Waukegan coach Amy Ramsey said. “She moves the ball really well, she was hitting her points and keeping us off balance. We were a hard hitting side going into the game, scoring 18 points against good competition in Mundelein and Hersey.
“So I thought if we could hit with them and score some points we had a chance. But she (Jackson) threw the lights out. Warren was great but we knew they were great. They went 14 -0 in our conference. I knew it would be a long shot, but there’s always ‘any given day.'”
But facing Waukegan (10-13) for the first time this season, Jackson was the one who had a day.
Eight Blue Devils had at least 1 hit, led by senior Sophie Furniss’ 3-on-3 effort that included 3 two-out RBI singles.
Senior Hailey Conger (2 for 3, double, triple, RBI), Gabi Olavarria (2 for 3, double, RBI) and Weidemann (2 for 3, RBI) each had 2 hits, while Josie Leibfried (RBI), catcher Ally Badgley and Cynthia Mobile (RBI) each had 1 hit.
“Sophie (Furniss) did a good job,” said Warren’s coach Jenna Charbonneau. “She throws the ball with line drives. She turns it on and goes. Our offense is progressing. We just hit line drives, hit the top of the ball and get there.”
And Jackson did it on the mound.
“He’s a bulldog on the mound and that’s what he’s told every day,” Charbonneau said. “We tell her she just has to go out there and work hard and get by and she does. And she has a really good relationship with Ally (Badgley) behind the plate and I do that with Ally too. So the three of us work together and always communicate.”
Jackson, a two-year-old starter, had a no-hitter earlier in the season.
“I feel like I got stronger physically and mentally on the mound,” said Jackson, who didn’t have a first season due to COVID-19. “Last year gave me a lot of confidence for this year. I have a great defense behind me so I’m never too nervous for games. And I know we have the bats.
“That (perfect game) is amazing. I threw a lot of fastballs, setting them in and out, and threw a few drop balls and changes that helped me out.”
“If we hit like we did and she throws like that, we’re pretty much unbeatable,” Conger added.