Trojans battle back for title
After two tough regular season games against Nazareth, the Parkland softball team wanted another shot at the Blue Eagles.
The Trojans had hoped it would come in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship, but when that opportunity didn’t present itself, they looked ahead to districts. The two teams would need to reach the finals of district play for the rematch to happen and everything played out perfectly to get the two teams on the field to play for district gold.
For a while, it looked like Parkland may have hoped for the wrong team to face in the finals as Nazareth took a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning. But when all was said and done, Parkland avenged the regular season loss with a 5-4 win and take its fifth District 11 championship in the last six seasons.
Nazareth’s Daphne Adams tripled with one out in the third to drive in the first run of the game and one batter later scored on a sacrifice fly from Serena Smith to put the Lady Eagles up 2-0. The next batter was pitcher Samantha Gorkos, who lined a shot to right field over the temporary fencing at Patriots Park to give Nazareth a commanding 4-0 lead.
Whether it was a wake-up call or something else, the Parkland offense, which had been unable to take advantage of a Nazareth error in each of the first two innings, suddenly came alive. Chelsea Morgan led off the bottom of the third with a double to left-center field and Mackenzie Wolfe followed with a two-run home run to cut Nazareth’s lead in half.
“We came in [after the top of the third inning] and we didn’t know what was going to happen, but we knew we had worked so hard and we weren’t going to give up because we had five innings left and that it was too early to give up,” said Wolfe. “When Chelsea got that double, it was like ‘here we go, it’s time to do something and make something happen.’”
Gorkos pulled herself together and struck out the next three batters. She went on to retire nine straight hitters.
Megan Fenstermaker broke the string with a leadoff double in the sixth, but Gorkos responded again by striking out the next two hitters. Kiara Bryant reached on an error and Kelly Dulaney then stepped to the plate to double and drive in two runs to tie the game 4-4 through six innings.
The teams exchanged scoreless seventh innings and Parkland pitcher Dulaney put the Blue Eagles down in order in the top of the eighth.
In the bottom of the inning, Steph Herpel was hit by a pitch that initially appeared to have hit the bat. With Herpel on first, Ashley Gallina sacrificed her to second and Gorkos got Bryant to ground out, leaving a runner on third with two outs. Dulaney was intentionally walked to bring right fielder Renee Snyder to the plate.
“I just got up to the plate and I knew I was going to do this for my team, because we deserve this,” said Snyder. “Last year we came up short, but we knew this year that we were going to get this and that we weren’t leaving here without the gold.”
What Snyder did was ground a ball through the middle to score Herpel and give Parkland a walk-off 5-4 win and gold medals around their necks.
The win gave Parkland a first-round game in states close to home. They returned to Patriots Park on Monday and beat Central York 5-0 to advance to the quarterfinals, which will also be in Allentown this Thursday.
In the win over Central York, it was Bryant who stepped up to deliver a two-run triple for Parkland. Dulaney struck out 10 batters and didn’t walk a hitter.
Parkland faces District 1’s third-place finisher, North Penn, Thursday at noon at Pates Park. North Penn beat District 12 champ St. Hulbert’s 10-0 in the opening round of the state tournament.