Parkland Press

Monday, December 10, 2018

So. Parkland Connie Mack earns top seed

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 by CHRISTOPHER HIPPENSTEEL Special to the Press in Sports

The South Parkland Connie Mack team reached the midpoint of its season with nine wins, one loss, and a question: would the Trojans carry their near-perfect record into the postseason, or would they falter in their nine final games and allow it to slip away?

After finishing the regular season at 17-2, the Trojans have proved themselves the frontrunner for this year’s league title. The team entered the postseason at the top of the league standings, three wins ahead of its closest competition.

After an arduous, 19-game season, it satisfied Trojans head coach Lon Barnaby to see his team’s championship hopes come one step closer to fruition.

“[When] we clinched first place, it was a great testament to the kids, how hard they worked, and how talented they are,” Barnaby saod.

The Trojans cemented their top-seed finish with a few games still remaining in the season, but they refused to relent, even with their position in the tournament bracket already confirmed.

In the back half of the season, South Parkland only stumbled once, suffering a 9-3 defeat in their penultimate matchup against Lower Macungie. The team recovered, however, in its final game, defeating ninth-place Coplay to end the season.

Although Connie Mack competition spans over two months, the South Parkland team has largely preserved the same game plan throughout the summer.

“We’ve kept a similar approach [in both the first and second half of the season],” said Barnaby. “The depth of our offense and our pitching staff has allowed us to do that.”

The Trojans’ depth again proved instrumental when some key contributors succumbed to injuries. But even with some of its biggest contributors unable to play, South Parkland didn’t miss a beat.

“We’ve lost a couple of key players,” said Barnaby. “Having a deep lineup has helped carry us through that.”

One of South Parkland’s most decisive victories came in a narrow 6-5 win over Bangor on June 23. Having fallen behind early in the game, the Trojans clawed their way back in the later innings, protecting their near-immaculate record and reaffirming their dominance over of the Lehigh Valley League.

The Trojans went on to best second place Catasauqua two days later, further securing their position at the top of the standings. Reflecting on the crucial 5-1 win, Barnaby said it was one of his team’s “most solid games of the year.”

Coach Barnaby, however, has already shifted his focus to the postseason, not for a moment allowing his team to ease up in light of the regular season record.

“Sometimes, when you go on a winning streak, you get a little too comfortable,” said the Trojans’ head coach. “We just have to keep focused.

“Our hope is to defend the regular season title, and try to win the league playoffs. I think we have a good opportunity to do that. [As for] state playoffs, right now, do we have a chance? Yes, but it’s going to be a big challenge.”

Over the course of the last 19 games, South Parkland has unequivocally proven itself a worthy contender for this year’s Lehigh Valley League title, overcoming injuries and close games to secure the top seed. Heading into the playoffs, the Trojans’ slate has been wiped clean.

After a first-round bye in the LVCM playoffs, Parkland faced No. 9 seed Coplay in Wednesday’s second round. That game was played after Press deadline.