JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa.; June 10, 2024 -- The Thomas Jefferson High School Softball team rallied from a 6-0 deficit to defeat Central Mountain, 9-8, on Monday, advancing to its first PIAA 5A Championship game. The wild contest was played at Mt. Aloysius College in Cresson.

The Jaguars (15-8) will meet Pittston Area HS in the PIAA 5A Championship game on Thursday, June 13 at Penn State's Nittany Lion Softball Park. The title contest is scheduled for 4 p.m. TJ has won 6 of its 7 post-season games in the past month.

The WPIAL 5A runners-up, TJ began its comeback when senior Zoe Krizan cracked a three-run double in the third inning to make it 6-3. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Krizan and Alayna Grese hit solo home runs to bring the Jaguars within 8-6. In the bottom of the sixth inning, TJ strung together several hits and Morgan Alisesky's two-run RBI knocked in Addi Bracco with the game-winning run.

"It was tough being down 6-0, but it was early and we knew we could come back from anything," said TJ head coach Heidi Karcher. "We just kept fighting and were able to pick away at it. We've worked so hard for this. We knew we had a really good team early in the season, we just had to come together.

"We've been doing all year for Hoppy," Karcher added, referring to the Jaguars' long-time head and assistant coach Hoppy Mitruski, who suddenly passed away in May 2023.

Krizan, a Drexel signee, was 3-4 with 5 RBI and Alisesky was 2-4 with 3 RBI to lead the TJ offense. Freshman pitcher Aubrey Shaffer had five strikeouts, including her 100th of the season in the first inning.

TJ returned to the PIAA Tournament for the first time since 2018, when it advanced to the semifinals. Karcher played softball at Penn State in the early 1990's.

Tickets for Thursday's game will not be sold at the gate. All tickets must be purchased in advance at: .

Photo by Jennifer McNamara

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