Thomas Jefferson softball team rallies to best Bellefonte in PIAA opener
Thomas Jefferson coach Heidi Karcher is a fiery individual.
So, when the recently crowned Class AAA champs botched a couple of routine plays in the top of the first inning, which led to a 3-0 deficit during Monday's first-round state playoff game against Bellefonte, the reaction from Karcher was predictable.
“Yeah, I kicked that bucket in there about three times,” Karcher said.
A trip to the mound with choice words for her young team is all it took to snap the Jaguars out of their championship hangover.
Thomas Jefferson rallied for four runs in the bottom of the inning and played flawless defense the rest of the way as the Jaguars won their first state playoff game in 13 years with an 8-3 win over District 6 champion Bellefonte (13-9) at Baldwin.
“What a terrible first inning. Terrible,” Karcher said. “It was nerves. That's all it was. We came back and fought and played our game after that.”
Thomas Jefferson (16-5) will play Greensburg Salem (17-2), a 2-0 winner over Warren, on Thursday. TJ upset the WPIAL's top seed in the semifinals a little more than a week ago on the way to its first championship.
Becca Bachman, Kyla Prickett and Janelle Allison had two hits, and Lauren Herazo hit a two-run homer in the first inning.
Sophomore Laci Lautner battled back from a rough first inning to pick up the win. Although none of the three Bellefonte first-inning runs were earned, Lautner gave up three of her six hits to the first six batters of the game.
Bellefonte's Angela Capparelle had two hits, and run-scoring singles by Stevie Confer and Sarah Menna got the Red Raiders off to a fast start.
“To get some breaks and put three runs up on the board was a fantastic start,” Bellefonte coach Gregg Kohlhepp said. “Give credit to Thomas Jefferson. They have a good team, and they responded very well to that. If we would've been able to play with the lead a little bit, I think we would've relaxed. It is tough to jump up 3-0 then fall right behind 4-3 almost instantly.”