Name: Jackie Lewis
Year: Class of 2019
Major: Physical Education
Athletic Career: As a two-year starter, Jackie started all 34 games in which she appeared this past spring – all but one at second base – and batted more than 200 percentage points above her 2017 average for the 17-22 Warriors. Jackie was third on the team with a .346 batting average with eight extra-base hits, 15 RBI and 12 runs scored. In the field she was third on the team with 57 assists. Jackie batted in six different spots in the order, primarily at No. 2 and No. 5 and shared third place on the team with nine multi-hit games and shared second on the team with four multi-RBI contests. Jackie's top two offensive games came in a 7-5 upset win over No. 15 Ramapo College when she had three hits – including a double and her only home run of the season – and in a 9-0 Little East Conference victory over Rhode Island College when she had three hits – including two doubles – and two RBI. After sitting out four games with a concussion sustained March 16 in Florida, Jackie batted .421 (8-of-19) with five RBI and three runs scored over the next six games.
This game account appeared in the July 20, 2018 on-line edition of the Norwich Bulletin
Preston--Jewett City manager Jackie Lewis is a veteran of tournament softball.
Lewis, who now plays at Eastern Connecticut State University, competed for district, state and regional championships for Mystic Little League all-star teams and later for CIAC state crowns for Fitch High powerhouse teams from 2013 to 2015.
She knows what it takes to win and she sensed the Preston Jewett City 11-12 Little League Softball all-star team she coaches now had an important quality to pull off something special.
"This group of girls has fun and doesn't get down," Lewis said. "Even if we're behind, the girls stay up and cheer for each other. They're never out of a game."
Much in the same manner as PJC battled out of the losers' bracket to get to the District 11 title game Monday, PJC shook off some sloppy defense while falling behind Hebron 4-2 after three innings. They responded with a four-run fifth inning and held on to post a 6-4 win in the title game to win the district.
PJC, which lost to Colchester in an earlier round, won the double-elimination tournament by beating HAMR twice in the span of two days. Lewis' squad advances to the State Sectionals.
"I'm so proud they pulled it together," Lewis said. "All I ask from them is to have fun, hustle on and off the field and give 100 percent. It's a thrill to coach these girls. We faced a really fast pitcher today, but we've been practicing our bunts. Finally, we got our timing down late in the game."
Ken Danewicz, a long-time administrator and all-around contributor in the two-town league, was a big fan of Lewis and Fitch when she played on the Falcon powerhouses. He asked Lewis to share her knowledge and coach the all-star team, and Lewis is glad he did.
PJC took a 1-0 lead in the first inning off Hebron ace Hadley Marchand, who combines a high fastball with a nasty changeup. Aryaan Loftis bunted with two outs and beat the throw out for a single. She stole second and moved to third on an overthrow before scoring on a wild pitch.
The small-ball theme continued as both teams struggled to hit the ball out of the infield. Jillian Dykema gave PJC a 2-1 lead in the top of the third. She reached on a bunt single and moved to second on an overthrow. She stole third and scored on the catcher's overthrow.
Dykema, PJC's pitcher, was consistent throughout until her defense and wildness let her down in the third. Hebron scored three runs after two outs to lead 4-2, capitalizing on a dropped infield pop up, infield error, walk and two hit batters.
"They're eleven and twelve year olds," Lewis said. "But we stayed composed after making the errors."
PJC scored four in the fifth to take the lead for good. Brooke Bolles reached on an error and Ava Bolles walked to lead off the inning. Dykema poked an RBI single to left, and Makayla Nelson reached on an error as a run scored to make it 4-3. Loftis singled but Dykema was thrown out at the plate for the first out.
Willow Ludlow drilled a lined single to center, which bounced past the outfielder to allow two runs to score to make it 6-4. Ludlowe however, was thrown out while rounding third - the second out on the bases in the inning for PJC.
"The girls got a little excited running the bases," Lewis said. "It could have been a bigger inning."
Dykema, though, made the base-running follies academic, striking out three in the fifth and two of three in the sixth. She allowed just one hit - Regan McCarthy's triple in the fourth - and struck out 10.
Preston-Jewett City advances to the State Sectional tournament on July 5-8 at Windsor.