Serra Catholic softball holds off Monessen, 7-5

| Thursday, April 11, 2013, 9:09 p.m.

Serra Catholic softball coach Mike Elko has been down this road a time of two already this season, so it was understandable that he was unfazed when his team managed only a single off Monessen freshman pitcher Shelby Minardi the first time through the batting order.

“For some reason when they get here for home games they are dragging,” Elko said. “It takes them an inning or two get it going.”

Actually, three innings.

Serra banged out 11 hits and scored seven times between the third and fourth innings then held off a furious seventh-inning Monessen comeback to end the first half of the Section 2-A season with a 7-5 win at Stephen Barry Field. The win moved Serra into third place in the section with a 5-2 record (6-2 overall), and the Eagles did it with their offense.

“We don't have the pitching like we had before, so I knew we have to play offense,” Elko said. “We have to hit the ball and we are sure hitting the ball. We have worked on hitting four or five times a week since January. We hit like crazy for an hour and a half.”

Serra finished with 17 hits, including three each by Haley Havrilla (double, two singles), Allie Taylor (triple, two singles), Morgan Willaman and Nicole Jezerski. Gia Husnick Anna Quattrone, Willaman, Jezersk and winning pitcher Samantha Andrekanic knocked in runs.

“They are all pretty solid hitters,” Monessen coach Bo Teets said. “We tried a bunch of different things to try to work around them, and they were still putting good contact on the ball.”

Andrekanic picked up the win as she went the distance, striking out nine and giving up only two earned runs.

“She pitched a good game for her being a freshman,” Elko said.

The game didn't start well for Serra.

Monessen (5-4, 3-4) used a small-ball approach as Marisa Germinario and Eden Holland led the game off with bunt singles. Cara Grogan knocked in a run with a single and Minardi the other run with a groundout to give the Greyhounds a 2-0 lead.

“Teams are starting to play small ball against us,” Elko said. “They know we can field so they are trying to do anything to get on base.”

Teets felt that his team could've squeezed a couple more runs in the first inning.

“If we put another across in the first inning, it is going to put a little more pressure on them,” Teets said.

After that, it was all Serra.

Havrilla, Taylor, Quattrone and Willaman led off the third inning with consecutive hits to tie it at 2-2. An error and a Husnick RBI single gave Serra a 4-2 lead.

It would've been more if Havrilla's bases-loaded single up the middle didn't hit a Serra base runner to end the inning.

The onslaught continued the next inning, and even a trip to the mound by Teets couldn't slow down Serra's bats.

“I just went out and tried to settle everything down,” Teets said. “I wanted them to take a deep breath and let them know the situation and forget about the stuff and get out of the inning.”

Five singles sandwiched around a pop up pushed Serra's lead to 6-2 after four innings.

“That's a good hitting team from top to bottom,” Teets said.

Monessen made a game of it in the seventh with some help from Serra. After Andrekanic struck out the first two hitters, she dropped a pop up that gave Monessen life. Holland, Grogan and Minardi strung together singles, and Serra also had a throwing error that helped to make it 7-5.

But Andrekanic struck out Taylor Guzzie to end the game.

“It was a very good win for us,” Elko said.

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