ALGONQUIN – It didn't matter who was in the circle for Cary-Grove when Jacobs freshman Emily Borg stepped to the plate.
With No. 5 Jacobs eyeing an upset of No. 1 Cary-Grove in Tuesday's Class 4A Jacobs Regional semifinals, the Golden Eagles' bats came alive, led by Borg. Jacobs sent 10 batters to the plate in a five-run first inning, quickly taking command against C-G.
The Golden Eagles didn't stop there. They added three more runs in the second en route to a 10-3 win. Jacobs will play the winner of today's semifinal game between No. 2 DeKalb and No. 3 Huntley on Saturday.
Eight Golden Eagles had at least one hit, but Borg was nearly impossible to retire. She finished 3 for 4 with two home runs, a double, three runs scored and five RBIs. Borg's two-out, two-run homer in the second off C-G starter Lindsay Efflandt gave Jacobs an 8-0 lead, and her home run to lead off the seventh against Lauren Stanley gave the Golden Eagles a 10-run cushion.
"I was really looking to get a base hit, and they went over [the fence]," Borg said with a laugh.
Jacobs coach Jeremy Bauer said Borg has hit at least six home runs this season.
"She's a freshman, so she's sneaking up on a few people, but I don't think she's going to sneak up on many people anymore," Bauer said. "... She's been doing that all year for us."
Freshman Sarah Murray stole the momentum for Jacobs with a one-out home run on the fifth pitch of the game. The Golden Eagles (18-14) weren't hestitant against Efflandt, who was making her third appearance after missing about three weeks because of broken bones in her face.
Although Jacobs had six hits – quite a few hit hard – off Efflandt in 1 2/3 innings, the Trojans (19-6) didn't do themselves any favors with a shaky defense, which committed three errors. Six of the Golden Eagles' first eight runs were unearned.
"She's a senior, she's deserving of it and she did a great job in her last two outings," C-G coach Tammy Olson said of starting Efflandt instead of Stanley, who had started in her absence.
Jacobs nearly played a perfect game, its only major mistake coming in the sixth. In attempt to score another run while her teammate was being chased back to second, junior third baseman Alyssa Lach plowed over C-G catcher Sarah Leudo as the ball arrived in a dangerous collision at the plate. Lach was called out to end the inning and immediately ejected.
After the game, the umpire said Lach was ejected for "malicious intent" on the collision. In accordance with IHSA rules, Lach will not be eligible to play for Jacobs in Saturday's regional final. Asked how Jacobs can try to replace Lach, the No. 3 hitter and one of their best players on defense, Bauer said, "you don't." Instead the Golden Eagles will need a team effort to fill the void.
"She's got to slide," Bauer said of the collision. "If she slides, she's safe. It was a high throw. In her defense, I think [Leudo] was right on the plate, and I don't know if she had the ball at the time or not. But it's unfortunate to lose [Lach] at this time of the season because she's such a dominant player."
Although she stayed down on the ground briefly after absorbing the hit, Leudo, a senior, remained in the game and singled in her final at-bat during the Trojans' three-run seventh.
"It was a great season," Olson said. " ... With all the injuries we've had this year, it's been challenging, but these girls have held together and rotated into positions like nobody's business. I have the utmost respect for our team and how they handled difficult situations through this year."