Softball advances to PIAA quarterfinal
Another game, another postseason victory for the Parkland Trojans.
With a first-round matchup close to home at Patriots Park, Parkland took on Conestoga, the fifth-place team out of District 1, and fought its way to an 8-0 win over the Pioneers. The win moves Parkland into the quarterfinal round against Spring-Ford, also out of District 1.
Throughout the game, Parkland took advantage of miscues by the Pioneers and turned them into big advantages.
It started early when Nicole Klass was hit by a pitch in the first inning and Renee Snyder singled to move her into scoring position. From there, Megan Fenstermaker picked up her first of two RBIs on the day with a bloop single into center field and some impressive baserunning from Klass.
In the second inning, a Conestoga error was turned into part of a three-run inning when Kylie Hlay delivered a two-run single through the middle. Parkland jumped on two more errors in the fifth, scoring four times.
Coach Barry Search stressed that his team actually works on taking advantage of miscues and has that as part of their game plan every time out. Fenstermaker admitted that the Parkland players are acutely aware of mistakes by their opponents and believe it’s part of their success.
“We know that all of the teams we’re playing from this point out are great and anytime that we can capitalize on their mistakes, it’s definitely a positive,” said Fenstermaker, a senior third baseman who finished the game with two hits and two RBI.
Klass played a big role in the three-run second inning when she reached on a bunt single and later scored on Hlay’s hit. Olivia Ondrejca and Snyder also had two hits in the game. Of Parkland’s 10 hits, all were singles.
Snyder was involved in a scary play at second base in the fifth inning when she was forced at second and the throw to complete the double-play hit Snyder in the back of the head, bouncing far away. Trainers pulled Snyder out of the game, but she reported after the game that she was okay.
As usual, Kelly Dulaney, the EPC Most Valuable Player, was spectacular on the mound, allowing hits here and there, but never enough to lead to any Conestoga runs. The Pioneers did put runners on first and third in the fourth inning and first and second in the sixth, but then went down in order in the seventh.
While Parkland took advantage of Conestoga miscues, the Trojans played well defensively, including perfectly executing a rundown that prevented a runner from reaching third in the fifth inning.
Parkland’s offense started the season slowly and has been up and down at times throughout the season, but the Trojans appear to be firing away now. With pitching, defense and now offense all coming together, Parkland could wind its way through two more games to again reach the state finals at Penn State University late next week.
“We worked very hard in practice and I think that’s showing now,” said Fenstermaker. “The girls are really coming together at this point and the hits are going our way now, so it’s exciting.
“I feel like last year the same sort of thing happened where we really weren’t scoring that many runs in the beginning of the season and now, we’re on a roll and the runs are just coming. It’s timely hitting and coming together and it’s great to see.”
Parkland is somewhat familiar with Spring-Ford and Search predicts a good game between the two teams, who both opened the season playing games in Florida.
“I saw them at Disney, but we didn’t play them,” he said. “We played them last year. It was a young team and they have some great kids with a quality pitcher and they’re tough.”
As for differences between this season and last, Search isn’t quick to make comparisons or talk about differences. He did see one common point between the two teams, which he believes is a carryover from last year’s team that went to the PIAA final.
“The only similarity is their work ethic and how hard they work,” Search said. “These young ladies who are starting this year saw what we had last year.
“They were around last year and saw all of that. It’s one of those deals where they had an opportunity to understand what was going on and it’s just natural for them.”