Jayettes claim championship of Paul and Mary Ann Graves Classic

The throw from pitcher Emma Olejniczak to first baseman Maddie West arrives just in time to nip IKM-M's Peyton Gross after her first-inning bunt during Saturday's Paul and Mary Ann Graves Softball Classic.

Saturday’s Paul and Mary Ann Graves Softball Classic was dotted with ranked teams from Class 2A, as No. 7 Interstate-35, No. 8 IKM-Manning and No. 9 Van Meter were all in action at the Perry Athletic Complex.

None of that, it turned out, impressed Perry too terribly much, as the Jayettes (5-4) won their own tourney with a 3-0 win over IKM-Manning (5-2) and a 9-6 victory over Van Meter (7-2). Van Meter edged Interstate-35, 5-4, in their semifinal, with I-35 claiming a 1-0 win over IKM-Manning in the consolation game.

The Jayettes dominated the Wolves in the first game thanks to a brilliant, 14-strikeout no-hit effort from pitcher Emma Olejniczak. The junior walked Paige Gaskill to start the game, with Gaskill reaching on a two-out error in the sixth to account for the only two baserunners IKM-Manning would have.

Wolves pitcher Peyton Gross allowed three runs on four hits but kept the Jayettes off balance through all but the first inning with a change-up that perplexed Perry batters. She issued one walk, hit one batter and struck out five.

Olejniczak drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first and moved to second when Alyssa Kruger was hit by a pitch. Head coach Tina Kenney called for a double-steal, with Olejniczak safe at third and then scampering home when the throw sailed into left field.

Rachel Kinney followed with a single to put runners on the corners, then moved up to second base after a strikeout. Sidney Vancil’s followed up with a two-out, two-run double to give Perry a 3-0 lead.

A two-out base hit from Maddie West in the fourth frame and a one-out single from Kinney in the sixth accounted for the only two runners Perry would put on base, but with Olejniczak in total control in the circle, the damage done in their first at-bat was enough to send the Jayettes into the championship game.

Van Meter was the home team in the title contest and scored single tallies in the first and second innings to move into a 2-0 lead before Perry countered with a five-run fourth frame.

Kruger and Kinney each singled to start the rally, with Victoria Hegstrom driving in a run with a double. Vancil continued her torrid hitting at in the early stages of the season with a two-run base hit to make it 3-2 in favor of the hosts. Brooke Huntington added a a base hit, with Vancil and courtesy runner T.J. Sheehy both scoring on Bulldog miscues as the lead swelled to 5-3.

Kruger and Kinney hit back-to-back doubles in the fifth, with Vancil reaching on an error and Huntington providing a RBI-single as Perry widened their advantage to 8-3.

A Vancil double, a passed ball and a RBI ground-out from Maddie West pushed the score to 9-3 after 6-1/2 frames.

However, Van Meter refused to capitulate, and rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to make things interesting before the Bulldogs ran out of outs.

Olejniczak surrendered six runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out three, with her teammates playing flawless defense behind her.

Vancil was 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored, with Kruger and Kinney both 2-for-4 with a double apiece. Jo Diw was 3-for-4 in her lead-off spot, with Hegstrom adding a double while Huntington finished 2-for-4.

“It was a great day,” head coach Kenney said, “and the girls played with a lot of heart.”

Perry faces a busy schedule next week, beginning with a trip to 4A No. 3 Carlisle Monday. Greene County visits the PAC Tuesday and Bondurant-Farrar Wednesday with Perry visiting Ballard Thursday before playing twice Friday and twice again Saturday at the annual two-day Woodward-Granger Tournament.

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