Frazier softball offense erupts in 6th inning for win over Jeannette

Friday, April 14, 2023 | 9:54 PM

It hardly seems fair that the Frazier softball team, a state championship contender for years in Class 2A, was reassigned this season to the Class A level. The Commodores have demolished their past six opponents by an average of 14 runs after opening the season with a loss to Class 2A No. 3 Charleroi.

“They’re definitely state contenders,” Jeannette coach Tubby Stein said Friday after his Jayhawks hung with No. 2 Frazier for five innings before the visiting Commodores erupted for 10 runs in the sixth to close out a 16-2 victory in a game between Section 3-A leaders.

Frazier (6-1, 4-0) remained atop the standings and held onto a one-game lead over Leechburg, which beat Bishop Canevin, 12-0, two days after handing Jeannette a 7-2 defeat to move into second place.

Jeannette (4-2, 3-2) dropped into a third-place tie with Monessen.

Madison Bednar and Maria Felsher rapped four hits apiece, and Bednar drove in four runs and pitched a complete-game three-hitter to lead Frazier, which opened the year with a 5-2 loss to Charleroi.

Since then, the Commodores have been on a roll.

Both runs against Bednar, who struck out 11 and did not walk a batter, were unearned, and she was working on a one-hitter until Jeannette scratched out a pair of hits in the bottom of the sixth but didn’t score.

Jeannette trailed 3-2 heading to the fourth inning and was down 6-2 when Frazier sent 14 batters to the plate in the sixth to break open the game.

“There’s some very talented girls on that team, starting with the pitcher, Grace Stein,” Frazier coach Don Hartman said. “She’s only a freshman, but she’s been doing a heck of a job.”

Stein, whose father is Tubby Stein, the Jeannette coach, couldn’t get through the marathon fifth, when her dad finally pulled her from the mound.

“My pitcher was losing gas,” he said. “She just couldn’t get that last out. I threw her longer than I wanted to.”

Frazier scored all 10 runs in the inning with two outs.

Jeannette pulled within 3-2 with a pair of runs in the third. Mackenzie Lewis’ successful squeeze play scored the first run, and Autumn LaVella hit an RBI single to account for the other one.

“We haven’t been pressured much this year, and they put a little pressure on us, which upset me,” Hartman said. “We panicked a little bit there. I give them credit. They did the right things. They ran a squeeze, they put the ball in play, and all of a sudden … We started to catch up to the things (Grace Stein) was trying to do to us, and we countered. That last inning was when we really squared the ball up.”

Frazier pounded eight of its 18 hits in the sixth against Stein and reliever Mia Sarpolis.

“Other than that one inning, I was really proud of this team,” Tubby Stein said.

Under Hartman, Frazier has been one of the top WPIAL teams in Class 2A. The Commodores, aside from the covid-19 season of 2020, have played for a WPIAL championship in every year since 2017. They won a PIAA Class 2A championship in 2019.

“We’ve had a good run,” Hartman said. “I’ve had a lot of great players.”

Frazier brought back nearly its entire team from a year ago, when it lost to eventual PIAA 2A champion Neshannock in the WPIAL final.

Eight starters returned, including senior first baseman Delaney Warnick and center fielder Jensyn Hartman, a pair of all-state selections in 2022, who had three hits each against Jeannette. Both players, along with Felsher, also drove in three runs apiece.

Frazier lost all-state shortstop Victoria Washinski, who committed to Division II Glenville State, and pitcher Nicole Palmer, who decided not to play this season after combining for a 19-1 record with nearly 300 strikeouts over the previous two years.

“This is basically the same team we had from last year,” Hartman said. “We played some really good teams in AA. We faced a gauntlet and we went to the WPIAL championship facing girls throwing 65 (mph). So we’ve seen some really tough competition that’s helping us to this point. Our girls are a year older and a year stronger. They have the experience behind them.”

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