Jeannette coach Karas looking for big season from experienced softball team

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | 9:00 PM


There is a reason for optimism for the Jeannette softball team.

Coach Zac Karas said last season’s WPIAL playoff win against Mapletown did wonders for the program. And with seven starters returning, the Jayhawks look to make another playoff run.

Jeannette finished 9-6 overall and 7-5 in Section 3-1A, tied with Greensburg Central Catholic for third behind Leechburg (12-0) and Springdale (9-3).

Leechburg ended Jeannette’s playoff run, winning a quarterfinal game 8-1.

“The section was very good last year season, and I expect it to be even tougher this season,” Karas said. “There may be a good team that doesn’t make playoffs.

“Leechburg is always good. Springdale has everyone back, and Greensburg Central Catholic got a freshman pitcher that’s good. I’m counting on our veteran leadership to lead.”

Heading the list is senior pitcher Faith Johnston, senior first baseman Abby Mortimore and senior second baseman Haley Kuhla — all three-year starters — and junior shortstop Taylor-Lynn Finken, senior shortstop Grace Johnston senior third baseman Alexie Shaw — all two-year starters.

“I like the makeup of our team,” Karas said. “We have the best team chemistry. They all support each other. We have good leadership.”

Karas also likes the freshman class. While he didn’t single out anyone, he likes the way the ninth-graders are pushing for playing time.

“They are pushing the starters,” Karas said. “They know what they’re doing on the field.”

Karas has four players vying for the starting outfield spots: Shaw, senior Belle Matijevic, sophomore Sydney Matijevic and sophomore Kenzie Parkinson. One of those four might start at third base.

“With everyone returning, I expect us to be in a lot of games,” Karas said. “Faith has pitched almost every game for us.

“Beating Mapletown is the playoff was huge for the program. Leechburg beat us three times, but we were in the playoff game. We just made a couple mistakes that cost us. They beat us 8-1, but I think seven runs were unearned.”

Karas is eager to see how the team performs in its scrimmages, Monday at Apollo Ridge and Wednesday at home against Valley.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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