Trib Cup: Jefferson-Morgan softball off to strong start in Section 2-A
For the Jefferson-Morgan softball team, competing in competitive Section 2-A, every game takes on an extra level of importance.
With five teams competing for just three playoff spots, it's important to get off to a strong start in section play, and that's exactly what the Rockets have done, going 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the section.
“Every game is a playoff game,” coach Tony Barbetta said. “But I would rather be 5-1 in the section than 2-5. It gives you a little bit of an edge.
“I told the girls at the beginning of the year that everybody can beat everybody in our section. … Last year, six teams in our section could have won some playoff games.”
The Rockets are highlighted as this week's Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award feature team, and they are part of the reason why Jefferson-Morgan is in ninth place in the Class A standings.
A young team in 2014, with only two seniors on its roster, Jefferson-Morgan picked up where it left off last season as it won seven of its last eight games to narrowly miss out on a postseason berth.
“After battling last year and ending up 12-8 overall we thought that we were just as good as the rest of the teams in the section, it's just who wants it more that day,” Barbetta said.
Highlighting Jefferson-Morgan's youth-laden roster are a pair of sophomores — second baseman Camryn Dugan and shortstop Morgan Simkovic.
The two have combined to hit three home runs while also helping to contribute to the team's stellar defensive play.
The Rockets also feature an impressive battery in junior pitcher Madison Ludrosky and junior catcher Reagan Rush.
Already with four wins on the season, Ludrosky, along with Rush, have been key factors in the Rockets' ability to knock off perennial section powers Serra and Carmichaels this year.
“Maddie's coming along,” Barbetta said. “I tell her she doesn't know how good she could be.”
Regarding Rush, Barbetta added, “She's a heads up ballplayer, good catcher, knows what's going on … pretty dependable, knows the game very well.”
Jefferson-Morgan will rely on continual strong efforts from its core of young players as it continues its quest for the playoffs against the likes of Carmichaels, Serra, Frazier and West Greene.
While off to a good start, Barbetta and the Rockets know there aren't any off days within their section.
“Two teams from our section are not going to be in the playoffs that are better than second and third place teams in other sections,” he said. “It's not always that way, that's just the way it is now.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.