Nadia Taylor hits a grand slam.

Recap: Taylor hits early grand slam to steer Team Zerkle to victory

Team Garcia unable to complete late rally, but captures 40 inning points

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Eric Rhew
Jun 15, 2023

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The key to Team Zerkle’s success during the opening series of the 2023 Athletes Unlimited AUX Softball season has been getting off to a fast start.

That key was on full display in Thursday night’s opener at Parkway Bank Sports Complex as Team Zerkle built an early 5-0 lead in the first inning and held off a late comeback from Team Garcia to secure a 7-6 victory.

The win allowed Team Zerkle to remain unbeaten at 3-0 while Team Garcia completed its opening series schedule with a 1-3 mark.

Designated player Nadia Taylor sparked the early outburst by blasting a grand slam with two outs in the opening frame, giving Team Zerkle a 5-0 lead. Taylor earned MVP 1 honors for her efforts and ended the outing with 170 leaderboard points.

Starting pitcher Haylie Wagner collected her second win of the season after throwing 6.2 innings, securing MVP 3 accolades in the process with 110 leaderboard points. Pitcher Carrie Eberle nailed down her second save of the campaign after recording the final out of the game.

Rookie middle infielder Sydney McKinney and outfielder Aliyah Andrews each notched two hits in the victory for Team Zerkle, which became the first designated home team to earn a win this season.

Catcher Taylor Edwards paced Team Garcia in the loss with her third home run of the season, a three-run shot in the top of the seventh inning that gave her MVP 2 recognition and 140 leaderboard points. Edwards, corner infielder Sam Fischer and designated player Danielle Gibson each tallied two hits in the loss.

Pitcher and team captain Rachel Garcia suffered the loss after yielding seven runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings with three strikeouts. She also went 1-for-4 at the plate.


For the third consecutive game, Team Zerkle scored multiple runs in its first trip to the plate with a five-run explosion. A double by corner infielder Jessi Warren got the scoring started before Taylor followed with a grand slam off Garcia down the left field line. Team Zerkle continued to build its advantage and led by 7-2 before Team Garcia staged its comeback bid with four runs in the top of the seventh inning.


Garcia remained the league leader with 460 leaderboard points, while Taylor moved into fourth place after rising seven spots in the league rankings with 420 points. Edwards also moved into a possible captain’s spot with her effort on Thursday, closing the first series with 428 leaderboard points.


  • Team Zerkle and Team Garcia combined to score 13 runs in Thursday’s opener, upping the league’s season total to 70 through five games … Aspiration is committed to planting 10 trees for every run scored as part of its ‘Round the Bases’ initiative.

  • Team Zerkle’s five-run outburst in the first inning marked the fifth time this season a team has scored four or more runs in a single stanza … Team Zerkle has accounted for three of the five instances, including a league-record seven runs in the first inning against Team Mulipola on Wednesday night.

  • Team Zerkle has plated 15 runs in the first inning of its three games, accounting for 60 percent of the league’s first-inning scoring output (25 runs) through five games.

  • Edwards, who has homered in three of her four games this season, has equaled the AUX record for home runs in a season with her three blasts … She now has 10 career home runs in her Athletes Unlimited career.

  • Eberle’s save was the fourth of her Athletes Unlimited career … She has registered two saves in Championship Season play along with her two saves during the 2023 AUX season.

  • Eberle also becomes the first pitcher in AUX Softball history to record multiple saves in a season … She also owns two of the four all-time saves in AUX history.

  • Team Zerkle and Team Garcia combined to hit 10-for-24 in two-out situations and were 17-of-30 in advancement opportunities while combining to record 22 fly outs.


  • #1 – Nadia Taylor (Team Zerkle, +60)
  • #2 – Taylor Edwards (Team Garcia, +40)
  • #3 – Haylie Wagner (Team Zerkle, +20)

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