Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week: May 22, 2022

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Sunday, May 22, 2022 | 8:51 PM


If championships were determined on paper, rankings and all of the statistic and sabermetrics you could discover would determine which teams win the gold.

Plus, we would miss three weeks of postseason action filled with great efforts, raw emotion and terrific teamwork.

Plus the occasional stunner.

Eyebrows were raised Wednesday when No. 14-seed Bentworth shocked No. 3 seed Ligonier Valley, eliminating the 2021 PIAA class 2A runner-up 1-0.

“We lost several games in a row to end the season, but sometimes the score doesn’t reflect the game,” Bentworth coach Jack Cramer said. “We were up in three of the four losses and had a bad inning to lose the game at the end. Except for the Frazier game, we have been hitting pretty good and working on the defense.”

The Bearcats defense, along with the pitching of junior Jaclyn Tatar, was spot on Wednesday in keeping the Rams off the scoreboard.

There was concern, though, earlier in the week that Tatar would not be ready for the playoff opener.

“As things worked out, Jaclyn was in the emergency room Sunday night getting X-rays on her ankle she twisted at practice,” Cramer said. “We didn’t know until Tuesday afternoon that she could go for us. Her effort was outstanding in the circle. She’s not the fastest pitcher they have seen, but she threw strikes and made them put the ball in play. She throws some off-speed stuff to set up her fastball, and it kept them off balance all day. The defense was stellar behind her.”

While Tatar was able to play, Ligonier Valley opened the postseason without one of the top pitchers in the district. Senior Maddie Griffin missed the game with a broken hand.

“I had figured we’d get either Chartiers-Houston or Ligonier Valley in the first round,” Cramer said. “We are very familiar with Chartiers, but knew nothing about Ligonier other than Maddie Griffin was their pitcher. So we set to work working on hand speed and defense as if we were going against either of them. I actually read about her getting hurt online, so (I) didn’t know if she would go or not. From what I read, it was more that they would rest her until she was ready.”

Bentworth scratched home an unearned run in the third inning. Cramer said he could feel the team’s confidence growing with each passing inning after that.

“Yes, as they came in to bat each inning, it was more exciting for them as they could feel the game going their way. They focused more on every play to help Jaclyn get the win.”

Afterward, Cramer realized his team had pulled off a big upset in eliminating the Section 2-2A champions in the opening round.

“Well as a coach, you never go into a game looking to lose, but sometimes you look at the other team and think, how do we do this?” Cramer said. “Actually, I didn’t tell them until Sunday that their pitcher was hurt so they were focused on playing her. The reaction was the same: let’s go play and see how it goes.”

It went better than expected, thus the Bearcats’ season continues. On Monday in the Class 2A quarterfinals, Bentworth will try for upset No. 2 when they face sixth-seeded Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

“I do know that OLSH is a strong team that only lost to Chartiers-Houston in section play,” Cramer said. “They will be a tough opponent for sure, but we will show up and do the best we can —, that I can guarantee you.

“Hopefully Cinderella has another dance left.”

2022 Trib HSSN Softball Teams of the Week:

Week 6 – Waynesburg Central Raiders

Week 5 – Charleroi Cougars

Week 4 – West Allegheny Indians

Week 3 – Avonworth Antelopes

Week 2 – Pine-Richland Rams

Week 1 – Ligonier Valley Rams

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