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Lady Jays close in on section title

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 4:06 p.m.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Junior pitcher Nicole Hall winds up in a section game.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Sydney Pecoraro connects on a hit to centerfield in a 10-1 home win against Geibel.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Freshman pitcher Mary Katherine Paulone is focused on her target.

On the verge of clinching at least a share of a section title, Jeannette softball remains focused on the task at-hand thanks in large part to head coach Dee Cortazzo.

“The girls were talking about the section title after beating Riverview,” said Cortazzo. “I told them we haven't won anything yet.”

Staying focused can be simpler for teams facing the top teams in the section at the end of the year, but Jeannette is on the other side of that coin with games this week against Section 3-A bottom-feeders Springdale and St. Joseph, two teams the Jayhawks handled easily earlier in the season.

Jeannette is in position to claim a playoff spot , the second in school history, thanks to perhaps the best week of Jeannette softball one has ever seen.

The Jayhawks won three section games in four days to move to 8-2 in the section and 10-3 overall. Jeannette has won nine straight after an underwhelming 1-3 start.

Jeannette began last week doing what they needed to do and should have done against 0-11 Ellis School, winning easily 16-1. The Jayhawks followed up that win with a well-pitched, impeccably defended 4-3 win over Leechburg to sweep the season series from the Blue Devils.

Jeannette capped off its winning week with a dramatic comeback win over Riverview to avenge an early-season loss.

Jeannette blew a 4-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning, but had a batter reach on an error and then employed a wild pitcher's greatest enemy — plate discipline — to draw four consecutive walks and win, literally in walk-off form, 6-5.

“The girls were so disciplined and so patient at the plate,” said Cortazzo. “I was so proud of them.”

Cortazzo said she will start junior pitcher Nicole Hall in both section games this week, but will not hesitate to go to Mary Katherine Paulone if needed.

“Nicole is very calm out there,” said Cortazzo. “The plan is to start her and see where it goes from there.”

Jeannette hosted Springdale yesterday, and hosts St. Joseph today. If all goes well, the Jayhawks can stop talking about a section title and begin the celebration.

WPIAL Section 3-A:

Leechburg (9-2) (9-2)

Jeannette (8-2) (10-3)

Riverview (7-2) (8-4)

Vincentian Academy (6-4) (6-4)

St. Joseph (3-7) (3-8)

Springdale (2-7) (2-10)

Ellis School (0-11) (0-11)

Dave Moio is a freelance writer.

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