Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Serra Continues to Build Program

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Serra Continues to Build Program

Article excerpt

Through five games this season his Serra Catholic softball team was sitting at 4-1 overall, but coach Mike Elko knew it was time to make a decision.

Junior pitcher Nicole Jezerski had started the first five games and compiled a 4-1 record. She was successful last season going 3-2 in a backup role. But Jezerski was also an asset at second base and freshman pitcher Sam Andrekanic had shown plenty of promise.

So, even though nothing appeared to be broken, Elko took a chance and made a change. Jezerski moved to second base and Andrekanic took over at starting pitcher. It was a calculated risk that was made with long-term goals in mind for this season and beyond.

The calculated risk has produced results.

Andrekanic finished the regular season 7-5 and the Eagles went 10- 6 overall, 9-5 in Class A Section 2, good for third place behind co- champions Carmichaels and Frazier to earn a WPIAL playoff spot.

In the playoffs ninth-seeded Serra won its first postseason game since 2009 with a 7-3 victory against No. 8 Bishop Canevin last Thursday at West Mifflin.

Serra's playoff run -- and season -- ended Monday when the Eagles (11-7) lost to Neshannock, 14-0, in a quarterfinal game at North Hills. Neshannock (16-2) is the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL playoffs and received a first-round bye in the 15-team field.

Despite the loss, it was a productive season for the Eagles and the pitching change was a potential major turning point this season.

"With the makeup of our team, we were just trying to put the best team out there," Elko said. "It was a little tough, we talked about it as coaches and players. Nicole gave us a better chance at second base. She is really good at covering the bunt."

Jezerski was 4-1 with 26 strikeouts over 29 innings and a 3.14 ERA. Andrekanic finished the regular season with 68 strikeouts over 77 innings and a 4.09 ERA. Combined, both pitchers only walked 20 batters this season.

Looking around at the stands at the neutral-field site at West Mifflin during the first-round playoff game, Elko saw just how far this program has come. There to root for the Eagles were the Serra baseball team, other students, alumni, parents and coaches from other teams at the high school. …

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