Jersey Shore drops South Williamsport-White, 6-2

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Jersey Shore catcher ? ? ? tags out South Williamsport's 7 on a passed pitch in the second inning.

MONTGOMERY – After walking a batter on four pitches, Jersey Shore pitcher Jocelyn McCracken was visibly frustrated with herself. But to add insult to injury, McCracken was beaned in the back on an errant throw by her catcher. McCracken took a moment to recover and the hit didn’t hurt or hinder her. It seemed to lift her.

McCracken struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning and she cruised the rest of the way as she threw a no-hitter while striking out 15 to lead Jersey Shore to a 6-2 win over South Williamsport-White in the 8-10 softball District 12 championship Sunday afternoon at Staggert’s Field.

Jersey Shore lost in the first round against South-White so the two will meet up again today at 6 p.m. at Clinton for the title.

“She was unstoppable today. She’s a tough kid,” said Jersey Shore coach Jason Stellfox. “She’s come a long way in a year. A year ago she’d never imagine that she’d throw a no-hitter in a championship game. It was big for her.”

McCracken also led the Jersey Shore offense, going 3 for 4 with two runs. She took pressure off her defense with the 15 strikeouts, including three straight to end the game. Her defense only accounted for three outs, a 2-5 throw out in the first, a 2U putout at home on a run-saving play from catcher Jaymison Stellfox in the second and a groundout to shortstop Katelyn Bowman in the fifth. If not for a fifth inning where McCracken walked four and threw five wild pitches that scored two South-White runs, she would’ve had a shutout to go with the no-hitter.

But her offense did enough to back her. Jersey Shore had just six hits but it put the ball in play enough to force six South-White errors that led to four runs. In the fourth, Stellfox led off with a single and after a walk, reserve Lizzie Weller laid down a sacrifice bunt that scored Stellfox to make it 1-0. In the fifth, Jersey Shore added three more runs, all scored with two outs, thanks to an RBI bunt single from Weller that scored McCracken and a two-run error that scored Isabelle Engel and Weller. Jersey Shore added two more runs in the sixth, both via errors.

But sparking the offense was McCracken with her three singles and Weller, who came off the bench and laid down two perfect bunts that scored two runs.

“She’s struggled a little bit in the tournament as a whole but I’ll tell you what, today her bunting was big,” Stellfox said of Weller. “Clutch moment, small ball, she was great today.”

South-White received great pitching from Alizabeth Schuler as she struck out 11 and gave up just two earned runs. But her defense and offense struggled to back her with six errors and no hits.

“It’s just a matter of making plays that we need to make. They hit the ball well but I think we gave them some,” said South-White coach Cory Goodman. “But we gotta come out (today) and hit the ball and make plays. That was the difference in the game.”

South-White and Jersey Shore faced off in the opening round of the tournament last week with South-White prevailing for a 3-2 win. That game was similar to Sunday’s as McCracken and Schuler each pitched against each other in another close game in which errors were the difference. The two may face off again today and much of the same can be expected. Two young pitchers pitted against each other in another close game.

“The first time we played, each pitcher only gave up two or three hits and each had 15 strikeouts,” Goodman said. “They did a better job against our pitcher today and we really didn’t hit the ball hard.”

“Both of these pitchers have fought, it’s been a battle both games,” Stellfox said. “She (Schuler) threw a one-hitter the last time and they won since they scored on errors. Every run they scored was on errors, that was on us but she pitched great. And the girls finally hit tonight and that was big. The first game we didn’t hit off Schuler at all.”

And much of the same can be expected from both pitchers again today.

Jersey Shore 6, South Williamsport-White 2

JS 000 132- 6 6 0

SW 000 020- 2 0 6

Jocelyn McCracken and Jaymison Stellfox.

Alizabeth Schuler and Lily Reidy. W- McCracken. L- Schuler.

Top Jersey Shore hitters: Jocelyn McCracken 3-4 2 R; Jaymison Stellfox 2-4 R; Isabelle Engel 0-1 3 walks, R; Lizzie Weller 1-1 SB, R, 2 RBIs.

Top South-White hitters: Lily Reidy 0-0 2 walks, HBP, R; Kendal Cardone 0-1 walk, R.

Next: Jersey Shore vs. South-White at Clinton (Today, 6)