Small ball, clutch hitting carry Frazier to early section victory over Jefferson-Morgan
Frazier softball coach Paul Harvey and Jefferson-Morgan coach Tony Barbetta each acknowledge that most games in Section 2-A this season will be a dogfight as at least four or five quality teams are expected to battle for the coveted three playoff spots.
That's why games against each other are so important.
On Friday, the Commodores took their first big step toward establishing a their presence in the section by posting a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the visiting Rockets.
Frazier used two different styles of offense, which helped produce a pair of two-run innings.
“We have to mix it up sometimes, and that's what we were looking to do,” Harvey said.
“We have to be able to win games, 3-2 and 4-3, and the team that makes the least amount of mistakes will win.”
The Rockets (2-1, 2-1) scored an unearned run in the first inning as Camryn Dugan scored on the back end of a double-steal attempt to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.
But Frazier took the lead by playing small ball in the second. A couple of bunt singles and a sacrifice bunt allowed Frazier to claim a 2-1 edge.
Alena Blaszczak started the inning with a walk from Jefferson-Morgan pitcher Madison Ludrosky. With two outs, Jamie Muccioli singled before Monica Joseph lifted a shallow pop-up into short center for a two-run single.
The score stayed that way for the next two innings as each pitcher began to take over. Ludrosky and Frazier pitcher Paige Hotz each finished with nine strikeouts. Ludrosky gave up seven hits and Hotz surrendered five in complete-game efforts.
Leading 2-1, the Commodores (2-1, 2-0) gained a couple of important insurance runs in the fifth. This time, there was no small ball involved.
Instead, Alexus Eicher smacked a triple to deep center field before Kesley Holp delivered an RBI double, which also sailed to deep center.
Then with one out, Hannah Kline knocked in a run with a fly ball to center. Kline reached on an error, but Ludrosky worked out of a potential jam to keep the Rockets' deficit at three runs.
“We didn't get a big hit a couple of times that could have made it 6-1, but the girls battled,” Harvey said. “They did a good job.”
Frazier had to withstand a late Jefferson-Morgan rally to earn the win.
In the seventh, Reagan Rush, Morgan Simkovic and Madison Dupont started the frame with three straight singles. Dupont's hit knocked in a run to make it 4-2.
Then with two outs, Simkovic scored on a wild pitch to pull the Rockets to within one. Jefferson-Morgan had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, but Hotz caught a high pop-up just in front of home plate to secure the win.
For the Rockets it was a tough end to what has been a very productive week.
“We looked at the schedule and we had Carmichaels, Serra and Frazier this week,” Barbetta said, noting that his team earned big wins over both the Mikes and Eagles.
“If you would have told me we would get two out of three, I would have taken it. But when you get two, you want to get three. But we told the kids that we have 11 (section) games to go and everybody is going to beat everybody and we're going to have to work to make it to the playoffs.”
Harvey also acknowledged that section wins won't always be easy to come by, and he hopes his team will be ready for a quick turnaround as the Commodores will play at Monessen on Saturday morning.
“I feel anybody can beat anybody in our section,” Harvey said. “It's a big win, but it doesn't mean anything if we don't come out and play well (Saturday).”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.