All the little things add up for Lady Trojans
A lot of times, it's the pitching and the offense that get all the attention and Parkland has had plenty of both this season.
Sophomore Aubree Fritzinger has been impressive on the mound and players like Emma Varrato, Madi Marshall, Shauna Frank and others seem to take turns getting big hits.
Against Perkiomen Valley in a PIAA quarterfinal game, Fritzinger was her usual self and the offense put together a good day, which all led to a 5-3 win for Parkland. What could have easily gone unnoticed were little things that helped to push Parkland along, which has been the story all season.
After not having a ball hit to her in the first three innings, third baseman Taylor Knappenberger suddenly had to put in some overtime defensively.
Starting with the bottom of the fourth, Knappenberger, who also hits leadoff for Parkland and had three hits, an RBI and two runs scored, retired five straight Vikette hitters. She was literally going all directions to make plays, with no less than three of the plays being balls that easily could have gone into left field for hits.
"I just had to knock down everything that I could because we just need to have tough D behind Aubree and pick her up when they're getting hits," said Knappenberger. "She's an amazing pitcher and she just hits her spots and then the defense picks it up behind her when they hit the ball."
Another key play came in the top of the fifth when Kyliegh Staudt led off the inning with a base-hit. Knappenberger looked to bunt her over and dropped the ball in front of home plate. The catcher threw to first for the out, but Staudt took advantage of something she saw earlier and moved to third on the play.
"I saw the first time when it happened that nobody was covering third," said Staudt. "When I looked and saw that nobody was there, I thought 'well, might as well go for it.'"
Staudt, who bats ninth in the order, consistently makes plays and does little things that don't show up in the box score. Her defense in center field is strong. She chips in with hits along the way and simply looks for opportunities to do anything that will help her team.
"The little things are the most important, so we work on the little things at practice and it shows up in our games," Staudt explained.
Coach Barry Search was impressed with Staudt's play to go first-to-third, but he's seen her do things like that all season and isn't surprised by what she can do.
"That's a tremendous play, a tremendously heads-up play and it produced results for us," said Search. "She's great. She's a great baserunner and she's helped us out all year, absolutely. She does a lot of things for us that don't always get noticed, but they help a lot. If there's a player who doesn't always get the recognition that they deserve, it could be Kyliegh."
Parkland's attention to detail has been one of the key components that have propelled the Trojans this season and has put them at 28-1 as they head for Penn State Friday in search of their first PIAA championship since 2009. Players up and down the lineup have contributed and even players coming off the bench have played roles in wins this season. Search mentioned Jess Kutteroff, who has become a baserunning specialist and the go-to-girl when the team needs a courtesy runner or pinch-runner.
"Jess works hard at that and again, it doesn't always get attention, but it helps," he said. "Just the fact that she's accepted that role and takes it as seriously as if she was in the lineup every game, is great to see. All our girls are like that and that's why we've been successful. It's just their hard work and dedication."