No WPIAL coach has worked harder or cared more deeply for his student-athletes over the past three decades than Bishop Canevin’s Bob Jacoby, the school’s football and softball coach and retiring athletic director.
Jacoby cares so much for his softball players that he gave them the opportunity Friday to do something they love to do – play ball until their feet hurt.
Bishop Canevin, the No. 3 team in the Tribune-Review Class AA rankings, defeated Center on Friday, 2-1, in 10 innings on a run-scoring triple and double by freshman shortstop Joie Hrapla.
The Section 1 game could have ended earlier, however, if not for “our stupid third-base coach,” Jacoby said, referring to himself.
Bishop Canevin (12-2, 11-1) tied the score in the fifth inning on Hrapla’s triple, signaling what looked like a big inning. But while Hrapla was getting ready to round third base, the ball came back into the infield and briefly eluded the defense. It did not travel far enough for Hrapla to score, but far enough for her to think about it.
Instinctively, Jacoby hollered at his baserunner to “hold up,” tapping her on the back in the process.
Softball rules mandate that when a coach touches a runner, the runner is called out. The subsequent groundout to second base would likely have scored the speedy Hrapla and avoided extra innings.
“I haven’t done something like that in more than 20 years,” Jacoby said.
As it turned out, Hrapla won the game in the 10th with a two-out double, and winning pitcher Jamie Kertes, who struck out 10 in 10 innings, made it stand up with another dominant performance. She allowed two hits, only one in the final seven innings.
Meanwhile, Hrapla made a game-changing play against Center for the second time in six days. Her stolen base April 25 led to the only run in Bishop Canevin’s 1-0 victory.
The most recent victory clinched the 11th section championship and 18th playoff appearance in Jacoby’s 28 years as Bishop Canevin’s softball coach.