North Parkland Legion coach Terry Stoudt has coached 43 seasons and has seen a lot of baseball, so when he puts this year's team among the best that he's ever coached, that's saying something. It's hard to argue with Stoudt when his team is at a perfect 12-0 and is having no trouble battling its way through the schedule.
The Buffaloes have outscored opponents 102-26 this season and have six games left on the regular season schedule. While the offense has been impressive, it's the pitching that has Stoudt so high on this year's team.
With games already backed up due to both bad weather and players being unavailable early in the season because of Parkland High School's long run into the varsity baseball postseason, South Parkland really wanted to get Tuesday's game against Coplay in the books, despite early evening thunderstorms. The teams waited long enough and the lightning finally passed, allowing them to start play, which was a good thing since they were able to pound out an 11-1 win.
A lot of times, it's the pitching and the offense that get all the attention and Parkland has had plenty of both this season.
Sophomore Aubree Fritzinger has been impressive on the mound and players like Emma Varrato, Madi Marshall, Shauna Frank and others seem to take turns getting big hits.
Sometime, years from now, the members of the Parkland softball team will meet up and talk about their state championship win over Cumberland Valley. Memories of some of the details may fade, but as with most championships, there will be one moment that sticks pretty strong in their memories. It will be the play that is remembered as the one that gave the Trojans the championship.
Parkland finished a near perfect season last week at Penn State when it downed Cumberland Valley 4-3 to become PIAA softball champions for the fifth time in the school's history.
Sophomore Aubree Fritzinger threw a complete game and senior Madi Marshall drove in two first-inning runs to help lead the Lady Trojans, who finished the season 28-1.
Parkland started early when Taylor Knappenberger led off the bottom of the first with a bloop single and moved to second when Abby Fritzinger was hit by a pitch.
Connor Higgins doesn't shy away from a battle and with the weapons that he's got on the mound, there's no reason to. The big left-hander gave his team all he could in a 2-1 win over Council Rock North in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals last week.
The only downside for Higgins came in the fifth inning when coach Tony Galucy had Higgins issue an intentional walk to Brandon McIlwain with a runner on second and two outs.
The Parkland boys tennis season officially came to an end recently when Peter Harrison and Nick Kshatri played in the PIAA Tournament as a doubles team. The pair lost their first round match to Dane Bendel and Charlie Strohl of Mt. Lebanon High School by a score of 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
To say that Harrison and Kshatri lost to a good pair of players would be an understatement. Bendel and Strohl went on to play in the state Class AAA finals, dropping a straight-set decision to players from North Allegheny High School.
Parkland's theme this season has been to keep both oars in the water and keep rowing. The theory is that if they follow that approach and one player stumbles, the others keep the team heading in the right direction.
That philosophy was key as the Lady Trojans made it back-to-back District 11 Championships last week with a 5-1 win over Easton.
Uncharacteristically, Parkland committed three errors in the game, but the Trojans were able to turn in big plays to offset those miscues and limit the damage.
The seniors on the Parkland softball team have put together a career record of 80-14 and are still looking to add a few more wins to that record as they battle through the District 11 Tournament and potentially a bid in the PIAA tournament.
In each of the last two seasons, Parkland has been crowned the conference champion and they're pursuing their second straight District 11 Championship.
The last and the first. That's how Parkland wanted its conference championships - the last one in the LVC, which they got last year, and the first one in the EPC, which they got last week when they downed Liberty 7-5 in the EPC Championship game at Pate's Park in Allentown.
Parkland's trip through the EPC tournament wasn't the toughest ride that the Trojans have had. They breezed through the quarterfinals and semifinals, downing both Whitehall and Easton by identical 10-0 scores, setting up their meeting with Liberty for the conference championship.