Northampton edges Parkland in closest of three games
It's not easy to beat a good team three times in one season. After beating Parkland by scores of 8-0 and 7-0 during the regular season, Northampton had some confidence heading into its third meeting with the Lady Trojans in the District 11 semifinal.
But this game didn't follow the script of the two earlier meetings. Northampton still came away with a win, but this time it was by a 2-1 margin thanks to the hard play of Parkland.
Both teams have good pitching. Marly Laubach (Northampton) and Morgan Rentzheimer (Parkland) battled back-and-forth throughout the game. Neither gave up much of anything through the first three innings, but Northampton bunched a couple of hits and took advantage of some fielding gaffes to plate two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Taylor Kerbacher reached on a two-out error before Tori Gollie doubled to drive her in with the first run of the game. Brianna Dalton then singled, driving in Gollie and Northampton had a two-run cushion. Rentzheimer allowed just one more hit over the rest of the game.
The Lady Trojans came right back in the top of the fifth, with Rentzheimer involved in the offense. Sam Pickar singled and went to second on an error and Rentzheimer drove a single through the infield for Parkland's first run of the season against Northampton, letting the Konkrete Kids know that they were in for a battle.
"I was happy with how we came right back and got that run," said Parkland coach Barry Search. "If we hadn't done something there, it would have kept the momentum going their way, so that was big for us."
The game came down to the seventh inning and a strange play that bailed Northampton out of trouble. Lexi Oakley started the inning by working a walk from Laubach. Alex Geiger came on to pinch-run for Oakley and Abby Fritzinger looked to deliver a sacrifice bunt. Instead, Fritzinger reached first on an error, while Geiger alertly raced all the way to third on the play.
Kelly Gruber dropped a bunt that was fielded by Northampton's first baseman, who threw to Megan Tiwold, who was covering first on the play. Geiger broke for home on the play and Tiwold threw a strike to catcher Hannah Peters, who was able to put a tag on Geiger for the second out of the inning. Fritzinger got to third on the play, but with two outs, the rally was pretty well ended and Laubach got the final out on a routine ground ball.
"I'm proud of our kids," said Search. "We had a shot there in the seventh and that's the way it goes. We have everybody back and this one will be talked about all winter. This was a learning experience for us."
Northampton went on to beat Liberty to take the District 11 title, but then lost to North Penn in the first round of the PIAA Tournament.