Jeff/GRC’s 9-10-year-old Little League softball team fell two wins shy of a state championship.
The District 5 champions earned a pair of wins Saturday, including a nine-inning 7-4 victory over South Bend South East to clinch a spot in Sunday’s semifinals before falling to Yorktown 10-7 Sunday morning.
“The journey was good,” Jeff manager Nate Betancourt said.
GRC had every opportunity to advance to state and face eventual state champion Bedford, which defeated Jeff 3-0 in Friday’s state opener and Yorktown 8-3 in Sunday afternoon’s championship game.
Jeff out-hit Yorktown 10-6, but four costly errors and a few added mental errors hurt the host squad’s chances.
“I can count several errors that were just unnecessary errors,” Betancourt said. “Honestly, I think we had the better team, but our gloves didn’t show it.”
Jeff jumped out on top 2-0 in the top of the first when Raegan Jones reached with a one-out single and Savannah Gaither drove her home with her first of two doubles. Gaither crossed the plate on an Olivia Shelton RBI single.
Yorktown answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame to take its first lead. Pitcher Cameron Phillips helped her cause with a three-run inside-the-park home run to the right-field fence to give her team a 3-2 advantage.
Jeff took the lead again in the second with two more runs. Cadence Northern led off the inning with a double and Hannah Hackworth reached on an error. A Jones two-RBI single inside the right-field line gave Jeff a 4-3 lead.
After Yorktown tied the game in the bottom of the second, Jeff put up another pair in the third when Olivia Shelton singled and scored on Gaither’s second double — this one to the left-field fence. A wild pitch allowed Gaither to cross home plate and it was 6-4 Jeff. It was its final lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Yorktown scored four times off Gaither. Isabel Tweedy gave the Delaware County stars a 7-6 lead with an RBI single and gave them a cushion with a head’s up delayed steal of home later in the inning.
Yorktown seemed to have put the game away in the fifth when it tacked on two insurance runs, but Jeff wasn’t done.
Kaitlynn Monroe started a sixth-inning rally with a single, and after Taylor Shelton was hit by a Phillips pitch, Northern singled to load the bases with nobody out and the top of the order coming to the plate.
However, Hackworth hit a scorcher directly to Johnson at second base, and Johnson caught Northern off the bag at first for a double play.
Phillips, who went the distance for the win, got Olivia Shelton to pop up for the final out.
Gaither took the loss and Monroe gave up three runs in two innings of relief, but Betancourt thought his hurlers threw well against a strong Yorktown offense.
“I think the pitchers were solid but those errors just kill you.”
Gaither, Northern and Jones each had a pair of hits in the loss.
MINOR LEAGUE SOFTBALL
YORKTOWN 10, JEFF/GRC 7
Jeff/GRC 222 001— 7 10 4
Yorktown 310 42x—10 6 3
W — Cameron Phillips. L — Savannah Gaither. 2B — Gaither 2 (J), Cadence Northern (J). 3B — Abby Johnson (Y). HR — Phillips (Y).