Breakthrough season continues for Jeannette with win over Carlynton

Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | 8:21 PM

The first taste of the playoffs for all the members of the Jeannette softball team turned out to be a walk in the park.

The Jayhawks took advantage of walks and defensive miscues to cruise part Carlynton, 16-1, in a Class A first-round game Tuesday at Peterswood Park in Peters Township.

The win is the first in the postseason for the program since a victory over Mapletown in 2019.

“My underclassmen worked really hard with this team this offseason,” second-year Jeannette coach Tubby Stein said. “They really jelled with the rest of the team, and I think the team circles around them. Once they found out (freshman pitcher Grace Stein) could throw a little bit and they got a defense around her, they got more confidence in themselves.”

Playoff nerves were quickly calmed as the Jayhawks plated four runs on only one hit in the top of the first inning.

Carlynton starter Kyla Morris walked the first two batters she faced on six illegal pitches, prompting a quick hook from Cougars coach Traci Melko.

Cougars freshman reliever Danica Dececco walked two more batters before Jayhawks senior Franke Crosby delivered with a bases-loaded two-run single.

“(Crosby) struggled a lot last year, but she has really worked hard on her batting,” Stein said. “She’s come along and these last three games, she has been one of my better hitters.”

Jeannette scored five unearned runs in the fourth inning on only three hits thanks to two walks and another error on Carlynton. Mia Sarpolis led off the inning with a base hit and with two outs, she scored on a throwing error. Autumn LaVella followed with an RBI double and Abigail Show singled.

Two runs scored in the inning on wild pitches and another on a stolen base after a botched rundown.

Carlynton plated its lone run in the bottom of the fourth inning on an RBI single by Taylor Zaletski that scored Bella Garcia, who led the inning off with a triple.

The Jayhawks added another run in the sixth inning, and then iced it with six runs in the top of the seventh with a pair of two-run singles by Crosby and Savannah Lock.

The telling stat line of the game belonged to Jayhawks leadoff batter Mackenzie Lewis. She reached base all six times she came to the plate despite going 0 for 2. She reached on two Cougars errors and walked four times.

Stein, the coach’s daughter, was dominant in her postseason debut. She pitched seven innings, allowed one earned run on three hits with only one walk and 14 strikeouts.

“We weren’t sure how long she was going to go,” Coach Stein said. “She has a big bruise that was all swollen up on the inside elbow. She was actually crying before the game, saying she really wanted to play but didn’t think she could go the whole way. She stuck it out the whole time.”

Carlynton (8-6) was looking for its first playoff win in 16 years. The Cougars last won a postseason game in 2007 in a first-round victory over Laurel, 14-7.

Jeannette (12-4) will advance to the quarterfinals for the third time in 10 years and will face top seed and defending champion Union on Thursday at a site to be determined.

“I don’t know a lot about them,” Stein said. “I know they have a really good pitcher, so we’re going to have to go back to the field and work hard.”

The win continues an amazing turnaround for a program that was a combined 2-31 the last two years.

“Honestly, I was not expecting them to be as good as what they’re doing here,” Stein said. “They really impressed this year. They shocked me.”

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