Bulldogs softball player recounts an argument on the field
Fresno State softball player Kaitlyn Jennings blasted former Bulldogs coach Linda Garza on social media on Wednesday, relaying her version of events that apparently led Garza to take a mysterious mid-season leave and her resignation to the end of it.
Jennings, who played as a sixth-year senior last season, recounted an incident during Game 2 of an April 6 doubles program against Santa Clara.
After starting the third inning with a single, Jennings attempted to steal the second base and was sent off. She said in a Twitter post that she made a comment to the referee about missing the call – “You missed that call, blue” – and that as she returned to the canoe , she was confronted by the Bulldogs coach.
“Coach Garza grabbed me by the front of my shirt and started yelling at me for saying something to the referee,” Jennings wrote. “She was holding me on the ground at the time, but I managed to pull away and get into the canoe.
“Coach Garza then grabbed me again by the front of my jersey and pushed me against the wall of the canoe, holding me there as she continued to yell at me for saying something to the arbitrator. She only let go of me after I said, ‘You can’t do this now, there are people around.’ “
Video of the match shows Jennings turning her head towards the referee twice while running off the field and apparently saying something, but the camera moves away as she returns to the dugout. Back in the game, there’s a very brief shot of the Bulldogs’ dugout, but no player comes close or straying from a confrontation.
A spokesperson for the athletics department did not comment on Jennings’ social media post and Garza could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jennings continued with the ref as the Bulldogs led 8-3.
“Once she was out of my line of sight, I heard Linda ask her, ‘Kaitlyn, stop it.’ I replayed this in my head, I don’t know how many times: ‘Kaitlyn, stop.’ Kaitlyn didn’t stop… ”said former COO Denise Rich. “I also know the next thing I heard before I turned around was KJ saying, ‘Please let me go’ and I immediately turned around when she said that and Linda’s hands were close. out of her ears and she said, “KJ, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry ‘and let go immediately.
“Linda immediately went to her supervisor for help with the situation and reported what had happened. I don’t think the culprits do this. I don’t think the abusers do that. I think people who know they made a mistake or went too far do it.
Jennings went on to write in her social media post, “Nothing can fully describe how this kind of treatment makes you feel. This feeling of overwhelming betrayal, worthlessness and shock. I have experienced intense depression and anxiety every day since this happened.
She said she was sharing the story to raise awareness of what could be a much bigger issue in varsity athletics and because Garza was not held fully accountable for her actions.
“The precedent set by allowing such actions to be more or less ignored by many oversight bodies is not good,” Jennings wrote. “The message sent here is that protecting the interests of a coach is more important than protecting the athletes.”
Garza took his leave three days after the Bulldogs played in Santa Clara, and did not return as Fresno State won a Mountain West Conference championship and qualified for its first NCAA tournament since 2017.
The athletics department announced that she had quit on June 15, ending a 4 1/2 run at her hometown school.
Pitching coach Jodie Cox was elevated to an interim coach position while Garza was out of the squad and has been credited with wins and losses.
Jennings said she will be stepping away from social media.
“I am saddened that this incident is now a footnote in my career at Fresno State,” she wrote. “But I know shedding light on that could prevent the next generation of athletes across the country from having the same experience, and it’s worth it.”