Jayettes move on to regionals as underdogs after pair of finale losses

Sean Cordy - Correspondent
Lydia Olejniczak smiles during Monday's doubleheader with Des Moines Christian. PHOTO BY SEAN CORDY/THE PERRY CHIEF

The Jayettes (2-15) had two chances Monday to end their regular season with some momentum against Des Moines Christian (7-12-1), which came out on top both times to defend their home field.

Game 1: DMC 7 - Perry 3

With the bases loaded for Lydia Olejniczak — who already had a triple — the Jayettes were primed to get the score rolling. The problem, they faced a 6-1 deficit in the seventh inning. Perry would still need another couple runs to win in regulation even with a grand slam.

Olejniczak got the crowd excited with a solid connection that fell short, ultimately turning into a sacrifice hit to drive in one run. Jayna Kenney’s next at-bat pushed through another, but with two outs on the board, DMC held on for the win after combining for six runs in the final three innings to overcome what was a 1-1 stalemate for four innings.

Game 2: DMC 11 - Perry 6

The Lions’ picked up right where they left off after the break and put up the first three runs of the game. Then Olejniczak stepped in for the hero moment again during the fourth inning.

This time with runners on second and third, the freshman shortstop cranked a home run to left field on the fourth pitch to take a 5-3 lead. She had already scored once along with Kenney in the third inning to pull the game within reach.

DMC responded in kind with a load of runs as soon as the Lions got to the plate. They put together a string of five runs thanks to eight runners landing on base. That could have turned into an even more damaging inning if not for the double play from first baseman Cassidy Heck to catcher Peyton Tunink to stop another run at the plate.

Olejniczak also got involved in some damage control with a double play to end the fifth inning, but not before the Lions posted another three runs to secure their lead.

Moving forward as underdogs

The season doesn’t end here. Perry gets one more shot to stay alive with a trip Thursday to Gilbert for the regional quarterfinal.

The Jayettes very nearly won their opening round last season before Harlan escaped their grasps. While the feelings from that game have since passed for Perry, head coach Tina Lutterman said that the team is instead focused on harnessing power as an underdog.

That’s a feeling the team has experienced throughout the season against stiff competition every week.

“It’s just that monkey on your back that you just gotta play with,” Lutterman said. “It’s just gonna be part of our game and we just have to be aware of it.”

While speaking to the team after the doubleheader loss, she also pointed out how those expectations opponents set against them have backfired at times. Such was the case in the 12-1 win against Woodward-Granger when everything went right, even against a team with a better win-loss ratio.

The same could be said of the six runs Perry produced in the very first inning of the season…against Gilbert.

Of course, the Tigers also scored six runs out of the gate and won 12-7. However, Lutterman still said she felt the experience at the start of the season against this same team is an exciting development as the Jayettes look to write their Cinderella story.

Gilbert is 2-3 in the last five games, and is 1-3 against mutual opponents with Perry. Notably, the Tigers lost 10-3 against Woodward-Granger.