Thomas Jefferson softball team’s 2016 season ends in consolation round
The Thomas Jefferson softball team was hoping to advance to the WPIAL Class AAA finals again this season.
The TJ girls, the 2014 WPIAL champions, fell slightly short in their quest and ended up with a 16-3 overall record.
Thomas Jefferson won the Section 3-AAA title and secured the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL playoffs. The Lady Jaguars lost to Mt. Pleasant, 7-3, in the semifinals, and to Yough, 7-4, in the consolation game.
“It was an awesome season. It just seemed liked we peaked a bit too early,” Heidi Karcher, Thomas Jefferson’s head coach, said. “As a whole, our offense and defense were not as strong during the playoffs as during the season. It is hard to keep up the pace when you are in the lead all season. There are always teams after you.”
Thomas Jefferson hit .387 as a team in 2016, and outscored the opposition by a 128-74 overall margin. Every player in the starting lineup hit .300 or better.
The Lady Jaguars were led offensively by third baseman Lindsay Kalup (.466), outfielders Sydney Flinn (.492) and Alysa Fairman (.412) and shortstop Rachel Bowers (.400). Kalup, Flinn and Fairman were juniors and should provide additional offensive punch next season.
The team’s .400 hitters were complemented by first baseman Emily Scheidter (.391), catcher Haleigh Karcher (.379), outfielder Bayli Moon (.313), second baseman Megan Fitzgerald (.315) and pitcher Lacie Lautner (.308).
“(We) had an incredible season and even though it was one where we didn’t end up on top in the WPIAL, we still won the section title,” Fitzgerald. “I am so proud of everyone for their hard work and determination, and I really hope they can bring the same energy next year that was brought this year. I wish this season never had to end.”
Scheider, Moon, Fitzgerald and Lautner were senior team members, along with Bowers and outfielder Taylor Covelli, who missed the year because of an injury.
“The seniors will be missed immensely,” said Karcher, the Lady Jaguars’ veteran field boss. “Overall, the girls played in four seasons, compiled a 44-32 record, won a WPIAL championship (the first ever in softball in school history), and won an undefeated section championship this year.
“I’m very proud of the seniors, and all the girls.”
Bowers, who did not strike out once all year, led the club in at-bats (75), RBIs (29), triples (2) and home runs (3), and tied with Fairman for most doubles with seven.
She clouted two home runs and drove in all four of her team’s runs against Yough in the WPIAL consolation game.
Kalup, who also did not whiff once, and Flinn set the pace in runs with 19 and 18. Kalup also led in singles with 19, and slugging percentage (.672).
Flinn (31) and Bowers (30) led in hits, while Fairman drew the most walks (13).
Haleigh Karcher, a freshman starter behind the plate, ranked second on the squad in RBIs with 19.
Flinn and Kalup clouted two home runs apiece; Flinn and Scheidter had one triple.
Lautner finished with a 12-3 record and 1.68 earned-run average on the mound. Fairman was 4-0 with a 3.43 ERA.
With four starters back next year, along with a talented group of underclassmen, including sophomore utility player Liz Brock, the Lady Jaguars look for a return trip to the WPIAL playoffs in 2017.
Thomas Jefferson will compete in the Class 5-A next season under the WPIAL’s new realignment plan.
“Hopefully, some of our JV players will step up and work hard to earn a possible starting position,” said Karcher, the Lady Jaguars’ coach.
“Rumor has it we have some talent in the incoming freshman class. The future looks bright.”
Ray Fisher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.