Thomas Jefferson shuts down Trinity, advances to 1st semifinal since 2002
Thomas Jefferson won three softball games last season. A year later, the Jaguars are bidding for their third victory already in the postseason.
Sophomore Lacie Lautner held Trinity hitless until the fifth inning and struck out 10 to lead Thomas Jefferson over the Hillers, 3-1, on Tuesday night in a WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal-round game at Cal (Pa.).
“This is an amazing feeling,” Lautner said. “Last year, we only won three games. So, to come out and have the type of season we're having is really satisfying.”
Thomas Jefferson (13-6) advanced to play Greensburg Salem in the semifinals Thursday at a site to be determined. The Jaguars last played in the semifinals in back-to-back seasons, losing to Burrell in 2002 and to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in 2001.
Trinity (16-3) had just two hits against Lautner until the seventh inning, when the Hillers scored their only run on two hits and two errors on the same play.
“We had a few defensive lapses, but we hit the ball today,” Thomas Jefferson coach Heidi Karcher said. “We've been working on hitting all year.”
Lauren Herazo doubled twice for Thomas Jefferson, driving in a run with the first one. Emily Schneider also doubled in a run and had two hits for the Jaguars, who missed the playoffs with a 3-12 record in 2013.
Thomas Jefferson outhit Trinity, 7-4, and scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings.
The Jaguars chased Trinity starter Katelyn Campbell with two outs in the first after taking a 1-0 lead on Herazo's RBI double, scoring Kyla Prickett, who reached on a one-out single.
They added runs against reliever Paige Galentine in the third on Schneider's two-out RBI double and in the fourth on Rachel Bowers' RBI single. In both cases, Galentine issued walks that ignited the rallies.
Lautner and Galentine walked three apiece with Lautner also hitting a batter, helping Trinity to a total of eight baserunners.
The Hillers failed to score in the fifth when Thomas Jefferson right fielder Tara Conley threw out Trinity's Jasmine Fuqua at the plate trying to score on a single by Emily Smith, the Hillers' first hit against Lautner.
Then, Conley made an over-the-shoulder, running catch of a long fly by Olivia Gray to end the inning.
“We hit some shots, but unfortunately, the ball didn't bounce our way,” Trinity first-year coach Shawn Gray said. “We had chances to score. We had baserunners. We just couldn't get timely hits.”
When Thomas Jefferson second baseman Emily Fitzgerald made fielding and throwing errors on the same play, allowing Trinity's Madison Hornak to score, and Olivia Gray followed with a two-out single, Karcher took a trip to the mound to settle down her defense.
“I just went out there and said, ‘Girls, don't panic. They're chasing us,' ” Karcher said. “Lacie did an unbelievable, incredible job for us. She was just so relaxed.”
After the brief meeting, Lautner got pinch hitter Riley Riotta on a called third strike to end the game.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.