Bottom of batting order leads way
In general, a softball team relies on the middle part of its lineup to produce the big hits. The hitters at the top of the order get on base to set the table for the bigger bats in the lineup to drive them in. Whatever you get out of the bottom portion of the order often determines how successful a team will be offensively.
For Parkland, the bottom of the lineup has played a crucial role in postseason success.
Against Easton in the District 11 semifinals, it was Caroline Rivera, the ninth hitter in Parkland’s batting order, who came up big when she drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth. Truth be told, Rivera was attempting to bunt, something she excels at doing, but wasn’t able to get the bunt down. With the defense still looking bunt, Rivera took a hack and drove a pitch through the middle and past the center fielder for an RBI double and a 3-2 Parkland lead.
To add an insurance run, it was Rivera who came up with a fancy slide into home plate to avoid the tag from catcher Gillian Walsh. The slide was so good that it led Trojan head coach Barry Search, who has seen a lot of softball, to label it a “classic.”
“The bunting didn’t work out and that’s normally my thing,” said Rivera after the semifinals win. “I had to go to the slap and that worked pretty well. I know I’m not much of a power hitter.”
In the district finals against Nazareth, Parkland fell behind 4-0 and battled back to make it 4-2 when the top two hitters in the order – Chelsea Morgan and Mackenzie Wolfe – quickly put two runs up with a double from Morgan and a home run from Wolfe.
To complete the comeback, Kelly Dulaney, the seventh hitter in the lineup, doubled to drive in two runs taking advantage of an error on Nazareth catcher Daphne Adams to make it a 4-4 game. The ball originally appeared to have cleared the right-center field fence at Patriots Park but it was ruled that center fielder Krista Colussi had fallen into the temporary fencing causing the ball to go over, making it a ground-rule double.
Dulaney, who also handles the Parkland pitching, would likely hit higher in the order on most area teams, but with big bats all around for Parkland, she has become part of the potent bottom of the order in Parkland’s lineup.
So, with spots seven and nine having come up big, what could number-eight hitter Renee Snyder do to help the postseason cause?
Snyder’s contribution came two innings after Dulaney tied the game when the junior right fielder poked a base-hit through the middle to drive in the winning run in a 5-4 extra innings win. Nazareth had walked Dulaney intentionally to get to Snyder and she made them pay for that decision.
“I knew they would walk Kelly to get to me,” said Snyder. “I wasn’t going to let that work and I just had a feeling coming to the plate that I had to get a hit and win the game. I didn’t let my nerves get to me and didn’t try to do too much. I just wanted to get a hit.”
In the games against Easton and Nazareth, Dulaney, Snyder and Rivera combined to hit .444 (8-for-18) with four runs batted in and two runs scored. Snyder added two more hits in Parkland’s 5-0 win over Central York in the opening round of the PIAA tournament on Monday.