The MRI loomed large on Monday.
Highland’s UCLA-bound pitcher Rachel Garcia was going to learn what caused her knee to buckle on the final play of the 12th inning in Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division 4 softball final against Torrance.
The results were fairly positive.
An MRI revealed that Garcia had torn her meniscus ‑ not her anterior cruciate ligament ‑ meaning her recovery time might be measured in weeks, not months.
The timetable for recovery from a torn meniscus is a much more manageable 3-6 weeks while a torn ACL could have sidelined her for 6-12 months.
“She will have the surgery as soon as we can schedule it,” Highland coach Doug Harmon said.
Garcia had thrown a three-hitter over 12 scoreless innings with 24 strikeouts and no walks to give Highland a chance to bring home its first CIF crown.Garcia felt her knee twist on the final play of the 12th inning, but tried to go out for the 13th. She crumpled to the ground in obvious pain and was forced to watch from the dugout as Torrance pushed across a run in the 13th for a 1-0 victory.
Garcia sat in the dugout during the postgame ceremony, then was carted away and taken to a local hospital, where x-rays were negative.
They knew the MRI would be much more telling.
“We’re just glad it’s not the ACL,” Harmon said. “Worst case is she will be out for six weeks. And Rach is so fit and strong, I think the recovery will go quick. They say it’s fairly easy.”
Garcia turned in a performance for the ages. She went 26-2 with a 0.20 ERA along with an astounding 418 strikeouts and 13 walks in 175 innings.
Garcia had a string of 54 consecutive batters retired in the playoffs snapped in the final.
Garcia fired three playoff perfect games and another one-hitter in addition to her prolific championship three-hitter.
Garcia added three more perfect games during the regular season and nine other no-hitters.
And that does not include the “imperfect” game she threw against Camarillo that made national waves when she did not allow a single baserunner through a hit, walk, hit batter, error or dropped third strike. She struck out 23 of 24 batters, but lost as a result of the international tiebreaker that placed a runner on second at the start of each new inning.
Garcia had been schedule to leave Sunday to Oklahoma City to train with the U.S. junior national team, but had postponed that trip. Harmon said with the shorter recovery time, a late arrival to Camp USA has not been ruled out just yet.