‘Fiery and determined’ Freeport seniors aim for PIAA softball playoffs

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018 | 12:39 AM


Friday represented the last day for seniors at Freeport, the Class of 2018 cleaning out lockers and picking up caps and gowns for the upcoming graduation ceremony.

The Yellowjackets' softball seniors, however, still have some unfinished business: Their season currently is marked incomplete, and they're trying to avoid their final grade for now.

After seeing its perfect season come to an end with a loss to Southmoreland in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals, No. 2 Freeport (13-1) still can keep its season going. A win Tuesday over No. 4 Avonworth (13-7) in the WPIAL consolation game at Hampton Community Park would send the Yellowjackets into the PIAA playoffs as the third-place team from the WPIAL, which would be the first appearance for the Yellowjackets in decades.

“There's still hope,” senior third baseman Claire Crytzer said. “There's still light at the end of the tunnel, and all our hard work could really amount to something.”

That's especially the case when five of the current starters are seniors.

“They would like to make the states,” Freeport coach Sam Ross said. “They want nothing more than to win this game on Tuesday and make it in to states. That'll definitely be their motivation, and I'm sure we're going to get their first game.”

Freeport's current seniors lost in the first round in 2015 and the quarterfinals in 2016 and 2017 before advancing to the semifinals this season for the first time in a quarter-century.

But the Yellowjackets couldn't overcome an early four-run deficit against Southmoreland. The team that rallied for several wins during the regular season saw this comeback come up short in a 6-4 loss.

“I think reflecting on it, (I'm) just kind of accepting it as you win some, you lose some in sports, sometimes it's just not your day,” Crytzer said. “You can try and you can do everything in your power to succeed, but sometimes it's just not going to be there.”

The knowledge of Tuesday's game helped Freeport cope with the semifinal loss, and Ross gave his players a day off from practice after the game to help with the process.

“We definitely came back fiery and determined,” Crytzer said.

Avonworth, the Section 2-3A champion, is coming off a 14-1 loss to South Park in the semifinals, a game that got out of hand quickly when top-seeded South Park scored 10 runs in the first inning.

In the round before that, the Antelopes blanked Freeport's Section 1-3A rival Burrell, 3-0.

“You can't gauge too much (from the South Park game),” Ross said. “Everybody that makes it to the semifinals, they're all good teams. We're looking for a battle, there's no doubt about it.”

A win Tuesday would continue a remarkable run for the Yellowjackets, who in addition to making their first semifinal trip in their players' lifetimes also won their first section title since 2000.

But Crytzer said the Yellowjackets aren't concerning themselves with their legacy at this point.

“Going through it, we kind of it acknowledged that it was a big deal, but we were just going out and playing softball,” she said. “We weren't thinking of the accolades or anything that. We were just thinking of going out and playing softball. All the success that we had and are having is just a result of our hard work and our continued drive.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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