Late homer ignites Thomas Jefferson in upset of defending champ Greensburg Salem
Kyla Prickett might not have felt the ball hit her bat. But her leadoff solo home run in the seventh inning of a WPIAL Class AAA semifinal Thursday delivered a different feeling for the Thomas Jefferson softball team's first baseman.
The feeling? One of optimism.
Prickett's homer, driven deep over the center-field fence, triggered a three-run rally for the 13th-seeded Jaguars, who upset top-seeded Greensburg Salem, 4-3, at Cal (Pa.)'s Lilley Field.
“I don't want to sound conceited, but I'm pretty sure my hit riled everyone up,” Prickett said. “It was what we needed.”
After Prickett's shot, third baseman Janelle Allison singled, and came around to score on a pair of Greensburg Salem throwing errors committed on left fielder Bayli Moon's sacrifice bunt.
Moon scored Thomas Jefferson's fourth run on a wild pitch.
“I didn't expect this at all,” Allison said. “I'm ecstatic right now.”
Thomas Jefferson (14-6) will play Mars, a 7-6 winner over Elizabeth Forward, in the WPIAL Class AAA final next Thursday, also at Cal.
Greensburg Salem (15-2), which won its first WPIAL title last spring, will play Elizabeth Forward in the consolation round Tuesday, with a chance to reach a third consecutive PIAA tournament.
“It wasn't meant to be,” Greensburg Salem coach Jody Morgan said. “Come back Tuesday, hope to qualify for states. I think we have a strong enough team to do that.”
The turnaround this season has been a swift one for Thomas Jefferson, which won just three games last spring and was in the semifinals for the first time since 2002.
“We had such a bad season last year,” Jaguars coach Heidi Karcher said. “We only lost one senior, and these girls stuck together.”
Thomas Jefferson took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.
Designated player Emily Schneider, who finished with two hits, crushed a one-out double to the fence in left and moved to third on right fielder Lindsey Kalup's grounder to the right side. Schneider scored on a wild pitch.
Greensburg Salem jumped in front with a two-run fourth. Second baseman Kellie Hutchinson, who had three hits, and pitcher Melissa Wagner started with back-to-back doubles to tie it.
Left fielder Maggie Kallock's bloop single into shallow left field scored courtesy runner Alyssa Milligan for the Golden Lions' second run. Wagner added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, but Prickett and second baseman Megan Fitzgerald recorded outs to seal it.