Jackson's perfect game leaves no doubt in Warren's win over Waukegan
One day after the first semifinal of the Class 4A Glenbrook North Sectional saw Loyola senior Mackenzie Barry strike out 18 with a 2-hit, 1-0 shutout in 8 innings over top-seeded Buffalo Grove, Warren showed it had some quality talent on the pitcher's mound as well.
Junior Sydney Jackson tossed the first perfect game of her career with a 10-0 shutout over No. 10-seed Waukegan in Wednesday's second semifinal.
Fans should be in for some intense softball for Saturday's 11 a.m. championship game featuring the No. 3 Blue Devils (24-7) and No. 6 Loyola (17-12) in Northbrook.
In her masterful 12-strikeout performance, Jackson did not allow a ball hit to the outfield, getting two pop-outs to third baseman Kaitlyn Weidemann for the first outs of the second and fourth innings and a groundout to freshman second baseman Nikki Peter for the first out of the third inning.
Everything else was a strikeout.
"I saw her in warm-ups and I'm like, 'She's legit,'" said Waukegan coach Amy Ramsey. "She moves the ball real well, she was hitting her spots and keeping us off balance. We were a hot-hitting team coming into the game, scoring 18 runs against good competition in Mundelein and Hersey.
"So I thought if we could hit with them and score some runs, we had a shot. But she (Jackson) pitched lights-out. Warren was great but we knew they were great. They went 14-0 in our conference. I knew this would be a longshot, but there's always 'On 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-for-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 great," said Warren coach Jenna Charbonneau. "She's putting the ball out there with line drives. She is turning on it and going. Our offense has been coming along. We're just hitting line drives, hitting at the top of the ball and making it happen."
And Jackson made it happen on the mound.
"She is a bulldog on the mound and that's what we tell her every day," Charbonneau said. "We tell her she just has to go out there and work hard and get after it and she does. And she has a really good relationship with Ally (Badgley) behind the plate and I do with Ally as well. So all three of us kind of work together and are always communicating."
Jackson, a two-year starter, had a no-hitter earlier in the season.
"I feel like I've gotten stronger physically and mentally on the mound," said Jackson, who did not have a freshman 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 never get too nervous for games. And I know we have the bats.
"This (perfect game) feels amazing. I threw a lot of fastballs, placing them in and out, and threw a couple of drop balls and change-ups that helped me get outs."
"If we hit like we did and she pitches like that, we're pretty much unbeatable," Conger added.