Softball season ends in state playoffs
After playing a nine-inning game in the District 11 final, the Lady Trojan softball team figured to be in somewhat of a comfort zone when it went to extra innings against West Chester East in the first round of states. That comfort disappeared in the 11th inning when an RBI groundout put the Vikings up 4-3 in the top of the inning. They held on to preserve the score and advance in states.
In the 11th, the game was being played under international tie-breaking rules, allowing each team to start the inning with a runner on second base. The Vikings used a sacrifice bunt to move their runner to third and Kyra Bond hit a groundball to bring in what would be the winning run.
Parkland went quietly in the bottom of the inning, ending their season at 22-4 and dashing their hopes for a repeat of their PIAA championship from last season.
“It is what it is,” said Parkland head coach Barry Search. “Those are the rules. It’s part of the game.”
When the game started, it looked like the Parkland offense was primed for another big day, scoring three times in the bottom of the first thanks in part to an error that allowed Alyssa Oakley to reach base with one out. Aubree Fritzinger then singled and another West Chester East error allowed Oakley to score the game’s first run. Singles from Steph Herpel and Shauna Frank each brought in a run to give Parkland a 3-0 cushion.
The Vikings got two runs in the top of the third, but they were in trouble heading to the seventh, trailing 3-2 with Fritzinger pitching well. A leadoff double and a sacrifice put the tying run on third, and a Parkland error allowed the tying run to score. Neither team was able to make anything happen until the 11th inning.
While both teams scored runs thanks to an error, both teams also had some big defensive plays to keep the other team from doing any damage. Frank made a big grab of a pop foul as she crashed into the fence in foul territory and Jess Kutteroff somehow made up ground on a ball destined to be over her head in the outfield to prevent any damage in the ninth.
“I think we played great defense and I think they played great defense,” said Search. “They made some great defensive plays, which kept them in the game. And we made some defensive plays that kept us in the game. They were fortunate enough to get that one run at the end, and that was the difference. That’s the way games go sometimes.”
Parkland made it an up-and-down season on their way to states. They suffered their first conference loss in three years at the hands of Freedom and had an uncharacteristic week where they lost two games, which may have been the low point of the season. From there though, the offense came alive as the Lady Trojans seemed unstoppable on their way to a third straight District 11 title.
“It’s been a great season for them,” said Search. “The expectations were great and they stepped up to the plate, and they’ve had a great run. I’m really proud of them. They’ve just been a great group to coach.”