Thomas Jefferson Edges Mars For First WPIAL Softball Title

Friday, May 30, 2014 | 1:37 AM

When the WPIAL released the Softball Pairings, they seeded Thomas Jefferson 13th. No one told the Jaguars, apparently. It took nine innings, but Thomas Jefferson (15-6) claimed their first WPIAL Softball Championship in school history, edging out a 5-3 victory over No. 11 Mars (12-5) on Thursday evening at California University of Pennsylvania’s Lilley Field.

Kyla Prickett went 2 for 3 with a 2-run home run and three RBI for Thomas Jefferson, who advances to the PIAA Playoffs as the top seed from District 7.

“It feels amazing,” said Prickett. “I can’t even explain how much heart we put into this entire season and coming out on top like this just feels unreal.”

But it was a miscue by the Fightin’ Planets that allowed the winning run to be scored. In the top of the ninth inning, Bayli Moon would reach first on an infield single. After being sacrificed to second base, she would attempt to take third base on a pop out by Lacie Lautner. The throw from Mars Right Fielder Jeanna Sybert would be errant and no one for Mars was covering home plate, allowing Moon to trot home uncontested.

Pricket would then add an insurance run, singling home Rachel Bowes two batters later and giving the Jaguars the 5-3 advantage.

That would be all that Lautner would need in the circle. The promising Sophomore Pitcher would last all nine innings, allowing three runs on eleven hits, while striking out five batters and walking three. Only two of her allowed runs were earned and all three walks came in the first inning.

Thomas Jefferson scored first, as Bowers would single and later score on a two-out double by Lauren Herazo. But Mars would answer in the bottom half of the first inning, as Suzanne Papik would reach on a base hit and then watch Lautner walk three straight batters. Kasey Jones would be credited with an RBI as she walked, scoring Papik and evening the game at 1-1.

But the Jaguars would jump back on top in the third inning, as Bowers would single and then come home on a monstrous two-run home run by Prickett over the left field wall, putting Thomas Jefferson up 3-1.

“I honestly didn’t even expect that,” said Prickett. “I didn’t feel that coming. That pitch wasn’t even in my zone, but it went right out and I saw it go over and was just flooded with joy.”

But in the bottom half, Mars answered yet again. Erin Hershman, a Robert Morris recruit, would reach on an infield single, advance to second on a base hit by Jones and then reach third on a stolen base. Marina Manuppelli would then ground out, scoring Hershman. Two batters later, Jones would score on a ball hit off the bat of Mallory Eperesi that was mishandled by Bowers, tying the game at 3-3.

In addition to Prickett’s big day, Bowers added three hits and scored three runs.

Mars was led by Jones, who went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. Papik and Hershman each had a pair of hits for the Fightin’ Planters, who will meet District 9 Champion Dubois Centeral in the PIAA First Round next week.

Thomas Jefferson will take on either the Champion from District 5, District 6 or District 8 (Pittsburgh City League) in the PIAA First Round.

TJ      1-0-2-0-0-0-0-0-2 = 5-11-1
Mars 1-0-2-0-0-0-0-0-0 = 3-11-2

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