Softball: NIU recruit Aubriella Garza adds to career homer record with her 18th, Oswego holds off Oswego East

Panthers score six runs in the first, hold on for 9-8 win over Wolves

Oswego’s Aubriella Garza (12) rounds third base after hitting a three run homer against Oswego East during a softball game at Oswego High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

OSWEGO – Aubriella Garza has a good answer when asked what the source of strength in her bat is.

She eats right and exercises.

“I lift in the morning at 5 a.m. with football coach John Hugunin. He’s amazing,” said Chavez, an Oswego junior. “It’s me, Kiyah [Chavez] and Natalie Muellner. We have a freshman that joined us this year, and a sophomore. We go in almost every day.”

All that pumping iron, and eating properly – plenty of salads – has helped Garza rewrite the Oswego softball record books. Already Oswego’s career record holder in hits and doubles, and single-season doubles, Garza smashed the career home run record with her 16th last Saturday at Lemont.

She added to that total with her 18th, a three-run shot, in Oswego’s six-run first inning Thursday, and Garza and the Panthers just held on to beat visiting Oswego East 9-8.

That homer record means something to Garza, an NIU recruit who likes to hit for contact but admits she’s definitely a power hitter because “I’m not the fastest.”

“I wanted to put my name on the board, ever since freshman year,” Garza said. “It’s been a goal to break a new one every year.”

Garza drilled the first pitch she saw Thursday for a line-drive no-doubter over the center field fence for a 3-0 lead, and singled and scored on Chavez’s two-run double in the second. And then Garza singled in Kaylee LaChappell for what turned out to be a critical ninth run in the sixth.

In between, Garza drove one to the fence in the fourth, flagged down by speedy Oswego East center fielder Finley Anderson.

“I thought she had another one,” Oswego coach Paul Netzel said. “Wind wasn’t strong enough.”

Oswego’s Aubriella Garza (12) delivers a pitch against Oswego East during a softball game at Oswego High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

Oswego, leading 6-0 after an inning and 8-1 after two, nursed a 9-5 lead into the seventh as rain started to fall.

Garza, going the distance in the circle for the first time this year, allowed the first four batters to reach. Nicole Stone’s single scored Mary Kate Quaid, Kylie Mannis’ sacrifice fly scored Lundin Cornelius and Katie Maday singled in Mannis with two out to make it 9-8.

With the tying and go-ahead runners on first and second, Garza got dangerous Oswego East leadoff hitter Ronnie Craft reaching for a pop-up to second.

“I have a lot of confidence in her [Garza],” Netzel said. “We had a nice cushion.”

Garza and Jaelynn Anthony split up seven-inning games during the nonconference schedule, but with Anthony throwing two full games this week Wednesday’s was Garza’s game. And she relished the challenge.

“It was pretty awesome, actually,” Garza said. “You got to switch up the pitching, eye level, when it comes to the third time through. They’re expecting different pitches, have to switch it up.”

Oswego East's Finley Anderson (15) reacts after hitting a 2 run triple against Oswego during a softball game at Oswego High School on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

Craft scored the winning run in Oswego East’s walk-off 8-7 win over Yorkville. The Wolves came a hit away from another wild win, but their coach appreciated the effort from climbing out of an early 6-0 hole.

Maday had three hits, Craft and Anderson two, Anderson tripling in two to make it 8-4 in the fourth.

“A lot of teams would have given up,” Oswego East coach Sarah Davies said. “But there was a lot of game left, a lot of opportunities to score and we did.”

Oswego’s first five batters of the first inning reached, and sophomore Savannah Page’s second homer of the year made it 6-0. Chavez and Garza each had three hits, and Anthony had two while reaching base three times.

Stone, who threw 139 pitches in Oswego East’s win over Yorkville Wednesday, relieved in the second inning and allowed three runs over six innings to give the Wolves room to rally.

“It’s hard,” Davies said. “To ask her to come in today, execute as well as she did, that’s amazing for her having to pitch that much.”