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Lady Jays enter playoffs today

- Sarah Pitzer reaches for a groundball hit to the infield.
Sarah Pitzer reaches for a groundball hit to the infield.
- Brittany Williams scores on a two-run RBI hit by Sarah Pitzer.
Brittany Williams scores on a two-run RBI hit by Sarah Pitzer.
PHOTOS:John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit - Delaney Cortazzo rounds second base after hitting a triple to center field.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>PHOTOS:John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit</em></div>Delaney Cortazzo rounds second base after hitting a triple to center field.

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Top high school sports
By Dave Moio
Thursday, May 16, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Jeannette softball marks its return to the WPIAL playoff scene today at 3 p.m. when it faces Sewickley Academy at Plum Senior High School.

Sewickley Academy finished the season as the fourth-place team in Section 1-A with a 9-5 section record and a 9-7 overall record. The Panthers swept eight games from the four teams who finished beneath them in the section, but managed only one win, a 3-2 victory over Sto-Rox, against teams ahead of them in the section.

Jeannette head coach Dee Cortazzo has talked all season about how her Jayhawks have pitched and fielded very well, but has expressed concern about the offense.

“We have to hit the ball better to be successful in the playoffs,” said Cortazzo. “We have not seen some of the faster pitching that we will see in the playoffs, so we will have to prepare for that and hit the ball well.”

Sites and times for the second round of the playoffs and beyond are yet to be determined, but should Jeannette, the six-seed in Class-A, advance past Sewickley Academy today, they would play the winner of the game between the third-seeded Charmichaels Mighty Mikes and the fourteenth-seeded Riverview Raiders.

Riverview finished two games behind Jeannette in Section 4-A and split the season series with the Jayhawks. Charmichaels finished 13-1 in a very strong Section 2-A, and were 18-2 overall.

Cortazzo will not stray from a season-long plan to ride the arm of junior pitcher Nicole Hall, but knows she has a viable relief pitcher in Mary Katherine Paulone should Hall falter.

“Mary Katherine continues to get better,” said Cortazzo. “She has issues with being nervous and lacking confidence sometimes, but she has been much better at not being nervous and pitching with confidence.”

Senior shortstop Delaney Cortazzo is the only player on the current Jayhawks' roster who was a starter the last time Jeannette played in the post-season. Coach Cortazzo is not concerned with the Jayhawks lack of playoff experience, though, as she believes this group is carving out its own history.

“This has been a great ride to see what this group of girls can accomplish,” said Cortazzo. “They have made memories that will stay with them and are a part of history for Jeannette softball.”

Class-A playoffs first-round matchups:

Number 1: Neshannock Lancers (15-2) - Bye

Number 8 Bishop Canevin Crusaders (9-6) vs Number 9 Serra Catholic Eagles (10-6) at West Mifflin High School.

Number 4 Frazier Commodores (16-2) vs Number 13 Vincentian Academy Royals (8-5) at Hempfield High School.

Number 5 Sto-Rox Vikings (13-4) vs Number 12 Shenango Wildcats (14-6) at Shaler High School.

Number 2 Burgettstown Blue Devils (15-4) - Bye

Number 7 Leechburg Blue Devils (11-5) vs Number 10 South Side Beaver Rams (13-4) at North Allegheny High School.

Number 3 Carmichaels Mighty Mikes (18-2) vs Number 14 Riverview Raiders (11-7) at California University of Pennsylvania.

Number 6 Jeannette Jayhawks (14-3) vs. Number 11 Sewickley Academy Panthers (9-7) at Plum High School.

All games are set for today.

Dave Moio is a freelance writer.

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