Elizabeth Forward pitcher Turek sparkles late, shuts down TJ
Following the third consecutive hit of the second inning, the fifth out of the first eight batters of Tuesday's Section 4-AAA showdown against rival Elizabeth Forward, Thomas Jefferson coach Heidi Karcher couldn't help but to show her emotions.
“Looks like we finally brought our bats today,” Karcher bellowed from the third-base box following Megan Fitzgerald's RBI single that gave Thomas Jefferson an early lead.
Well Karcher might have spoken just a bit too soon.
Following a trip to the mound by coach Harry Rutherford, Elizabeth Forward sophomore pitcher Sarah Turek retired 18 of the final 20 as the Warriors small-balled their way to four more runs to keep pace with unbeaten Southmoreland in the section with a 6-3 win at William Penn Field.
It was the fifth consecutive time Elizabeth Forward (5-2, 3-0) has defeated its neighboring rival Thomas Jefferson (6-2, 0-2) and possibly the Jaguars' most frustrating.
“She retired 18 of the last 20?” Karcher said. “Wow. Good for her. I am glad you put that into perspective for me. I don't know what happened. I really don't know what the heck happened after that second inning. All we do is practice hitting, and I thought it finally was paying dividends then no, it isn't.”
Karcher paused, then added: “It's unacceptable that 18 of 20 batters are retired to end the game.”
Over the final six innings, only Becca Bachman reached base for TJ on a third-inning two-out single and a sixth-inning walk. Before that, Rachel Bowers, Tara Conley and Fitzgerald singled and Janelle Allison, and Amanda O'Toole doubled, and it appeared that TJ's bats were alive.
Rutherford's trip to the mound changed that.
Rutherford said his message was simple and to the point to Turek when he went to the mound in the second inning. And it was also a message he's delivered a couple of times already this year.
“I went out and told her that she was just trying to aim the ball,” Rutherford said. “It wasn't a big deal, and let's throw the ball hard and stop trying to aim it. She has good movement on the ball when she throws hard. When you try to guide by not throwing as hard, you aren't going to get movement.”
Turek allowed six hits while striking out three and walking one in picking up the win and got enough offense from shortstop Caitlyn Arico to run her winning streak to three games.
Arico went 4 for 4 with a double, two RBI's and two runs scored as the Warriors banged out nine hits off of Thomas Jefferson freshman pitcher Alyssa Fairman. Fairman walked four, struck out two and gave up five earned runs.
“It was a well played game on both sides,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford used his small-ball tactics to push across the majority of the Warriors' runs. EF scored on a pair of sacrifice flies (Jessica Cartia and Lexi Ribarchak), a bases-loaded fielders' choice (Ashley Hoak) and bases loaded walk (McKenna Kern) to go along with Arico's pair of RBI hits.
“That's my game,” Rutherford said. “I bunt, and I am not afraid of that. I want to go for one run at a time, and a lot of times when you go for one run at a time, it turns out to be two or three. It is not very often that we blow anybody out. We try to manufacture one or two runs. I don't have the hitters who can blast it over the fence.”
The win was Elizabeth Forward's fifth consecutive and seventh out of its past eight section games dating to last year.
“They are a good team,” Karcher said. “Are they beatable? Yeah. I don't know if it is going to be us who are going to beat them or somebody else, but they are a beatable team.”