Softball tops Rovers in district semifinal
Looking to make their fifth straight appearance in the District 11 championship game, Parkland wasn’t about to let a late comeback from Easton get in its way. After the Lady Rovers tied the game in sixth, Parkland plated two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-2 win and face Nazareth for their fourth district crown in the last five years.
Easton hitters weren’t able to do anything against Kelley Dulaney early in the game. Easton went without a hit until there was one out in the sixth inning. The only baserunner up until then was Kyra Stanilious, who was hit by a pitch in back-to-back at-bats.
For Parkland, the hits came early. Chelsea Morgan led off the bottom of the first with a walk and moved to third on a double by Megan Fenstermaker. Steph Herpel worked another walk to load the bases and Ashley Gallina came through with a two-run double and Parkland was up 2-0. The Lady Trojans again loaded the bases in the second but they came up empty when starter A.J. Bryfogle got Fenstermaker to ground out to third to end the threat.
From there, Abbey Jackson came on in relief of Bryfogle and allowed one hit and two walks over the next three innings to give her team a chance to get back into the game.
Dulaney lost her no-hitter in the top of the sixth when Zariah Alvin singled to left with one out. One out later, Courtney Grundhauser singled to drive in Alvin and Gillian Walsh singled to push a second run across the plate but was thrown out trying to advance to second to end the inning.
“I didn’t even know that I had a no-hitter,” said Dulaney with a big smile. “I just have faith in my team and my coaches and I knew we would pull through.”
At that point, the game was tied and Parkland went back to work.
Dulaney led off the Parkland half of the sixth with a base hit and went to second when the ball bounced past the left fielder. One out later, Caroline Rivera turned a failed bunt attempt into a Parkland lead when she laced a ball into the outfield, which was pulled in close expecting another bunt attempt from Rivera. The ball rolled past the center fielder for a double and Parkland went up 3-2.
“The bunting didn’t work out and that’s normally my thing,” said Rivera who had reached on a bunt single earlier in the game. “I had to go to the slap and that worked pretty well. I know I’m not much of a power hitter. I saw the gap open and I just tried to knock it in there.”
Morgan then followed with a base hit and when it looked like Rivera was going to be out at the plate, she slid well away from the catcher and caught the back point of the plate with her hand for a Parkland insurance run.
“I saw the catcher setting up, she was up the line a little bit and I just went past her and slid past her. It was fun,” said Rivera of the slide that Trojans head coach Barry Search would call a “classic.”
Easton got a leadoff single in the seventh, but Dulaney shut the door to lead Parkland to the district championship Thursday at Pates Park against Nazareth.
Rivera may have been somewhat of an unexpected hero in that she had lost her starting job during the season only to regain it late in the year. Search, who has coached a lot of softball, admits that he’s somewhat intrigued by Rivera’s softball skills.
“She brings a lot to the table,” he said. “A lot of stuff that, to be honest with you, I’m not used to with speed and that slap [hitting],” said Search. “She brings that to the table and she’s getting better and better at it every day. My hat’s off to her because she works hard. All of the kids work so hard and they’ve been a class act all year. They work as a team and that’s all I can ask for.”
Parkland and Nazareth are division rivals in the EPC Skyline Division and split their two regular season games. Parkland won the first meeting 1-0 and dropped their last meeting four weeks ago by a 3-1 score. The Blue Eagles haven’t won district gold since 2006. The game is scheduled for Thursday at Patriots Park in Allentown.