The Buffaloes of North Parkland are without manager Terry Stoudt, but are pressing on through the Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball League playoffs with close games all the way through.
As the three-seed in the double-elimination tournament, North Parkland had beaten Northern Valley 5-4 and Lower Macungie 4-3 leading up to their meeting with rival South Parkland Tuesday night. North Parkland had won each of the two meetings between the two teams during the regular season by scores of 4-3 and 7-0.
South Parkland is comfortably in the driver’s seat to win the Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball League championship, needing just one more win to reach the Regional 2 Tournament. The Trojans downed rival North Parkland Tuesday evening 1-0, scoring just an unearned first-inning run to get the win that puts them in the championship.
Terry Stoudt doesn’t like to lose any games, so losing Saturday’s 7-6 decision to Emmaus wasn’t on his list of things to do over the weekend. In the grand scheme of things, it turned out that it didn’t change the postseason plans for the North Parkland Buffaloes. The Buffs will go into the Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball League playoffs as the number-three seed, exactly where they would have been even with a win over Emmaus.
North Parkland was in need of a big week and the Buffaloes got just what they needed. The week included a 10-run win over West Allentown, a doubleheader sweep of Northern Valley and a 15-0 blasting of Southern Lehigh. The four wins moved the Buffaloes to 9-6 on the season, currently putting them in the postseason as the fourth seed in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.
South Parkland faced previously unbeaten Salisbury at Parkland High School last week. None of Salisbury’s previous opponents had much fun playing the Falcons. However, for Trojan pitcher A.J. Palumbo, it was a lot of fun. He was locked in against Salisbury and kept hitters way off balance throughout the game. The end result was a 2-1 win for South Parkland.
The key was a breaking ball that he was throwing for strikes whenever he wanted to. Match that with a strong fastball and Falcons hitters were left to only guess what was coming.
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.
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.
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.
Parkland admittedly got a little help from a porous Liberty defense in the District 11 semifinal, but the Trojans took advantage of every little thing that the Hurricanes gave them on their way to a 7-5 win and a spot in the District 11 championship. The semifinal win also reserves a spot for Parkland in the PIAA tournament, which begins next week.
Liberty, the defending District 11 Class 6A champions, committed four errors in the game, three of them by shortstop Marcus Nales, and Parkland used each of the errors to add to its run tally.
The Parkland softball team can beat teams in many ways. In the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference semifinal, the Trojans took a 1-0 win over Easton in a pitcher’s duel. When it came time to play for their fifth straight conference championship, though, they put their bats to work and made quick work of Liberty in an 11-0 win.
“I was just so happy for them because we’ve been struggling with the bats here of late,” said Parkland head coach Barry Search. “They just came out and hit the ball and did a fantastic job.”