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Jeannette softball team looks to continue its impressive run

| Sunday, May 19, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

Jeannette softball coach Dee Dee Cortazzo didn't know what direction the 2013 season was headed after the first four games.

The team started 1-3 and wasn't playing well.

She also was still mourning the loss of her husband Chris, who died of a heart attack Feb. 11. He was by her side at every home game.

“I was having an emotional day,” Cortazzo said about the Jayhawk's 2013 home opener. “I was a mess, my daughter Delaney was a mess, and we weren't playing well. I thought we were going to fold, but the first home game turned things around.

“They sucked it up, and they don't know quit. I told the team to pick me up, and they did.”

Jeannette defeated Vincentian Academy, 10-0, on April 10, and the Jayhawks since have put together 14 consecutive victories, including an 11-5 victory over Sewickley Academy for the school's first WPIAL playoff victory.

Jeannette (15-3) has advanced to the Class A quarterfinals against perennial playoff participant Carmichaels (19-2) at 2 p.m. Monday at Baldwin.

Cortazzo said the first playoff victory was huge.

“Hopefully the win will help the program,” said Cortazzo, who will retire after 15 years as coach. “I have two girls in college, and whatever happens it will be a nice way to go out.”

The first playoff win didn't come easily. Jeannette had trouble adjusting to a slower pitcher. But Brianna Crawford (4 for 5), Mary Katherine Paulone (2 for 4) and Sydney Pecoraro (2 for 4) ignited a six-run eighth inning against Sewickley Academy.

They won't face a slow pitcher against Carmichaels; the Mikes' Erica Burns is 18-0 with 165 strikeouts.

“I don't know much about the teams in Class A,” Cortazzo said, “But Frazier and Carmichaels split during the season, and Frazier struggled against Vincentian, a team we defeated.

“I told the girls anything can happen in the playoffs. These girls have a no-quit attitude. They have each other's back.”

Cortazzo will start junior Nicole Hall on the mound.

In other action Monday, Latrobe (15-4) plays Peters Township (17-4) at California at 4 p.m., Hempfield (16-5) faces Shaler (13-5) at Plum at 5 p.m. and Penn-Trafford (13-5) plays Canon-McMillan (18-1) at California at 6 p.m. in Class AAAA. In Class AAA, Greensburg Salem (18-2) meets Blackhawk (10-6) at 3 p.m. at Plum. In Class AA, Greensburg Central Catholic (11-4) faces Beaver (11-6) at 2 p.m. at Hampton. And in Class A, Frazier (17-2) and Shenango (15-6) square off at Fairhaven Park in Kennedy Township.

Latrobe coach Rick Shaheen said his team, which hasn't played in two weeks, will be in for a battle against Peters Township.

“Peters Township is well-balanced,” Shaheen said. “They hit to all fields, and the pitching is good.

“The girls are chomping at the bit. It's showtime. They can't wait to get started.”

Shaheen is hoping his girls are ready to play and can avoid a letdown.

“I expect us to be right back where we left off,” he said.

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