"They just come out and play the game."
That's how Parkland softball head coach Barry Search describes his team that picked up a 10-0 win over Easton in the East Penn Conference semifinals Tuesday to advance to the conference championship against Liberty Thursday afternoon at Patriot's Park in Allentown.
Aubree Fritzinger threw five shutout innings, giving up just one hit and striking out four to get the win for the Lady Trojans. Meanwhile, Parkland pounded two Easton pitchers for 10 hits and took advantage of some fielding lapses along the way.
For many, a team tennis title for Parkland seemed to be an inevitable event this season. After all, the team dominated in the regular season, had the runner-up in district singles and a doubles team that won a district championship.
Things didn't turn out quite the way many thought that they would when Freedom upset the top-seeded Trojans 3-1 in the District 11 finals to advance to the PIAA Tournament.
Connor Higgins and Rhett Jacoby really don't care who they pitch against, so when coach Tony Galucy switched the two, putting Higgins up against Easton last week and bumping Jacoby back a day to have him pitch against Emmaus, it was no problem. It also worked out very well.
Higgins threw a four-hit shutout against Easton and Jacoby allowed just three hits and struck out nine against Emmaus.
As singles players, Parkland's Peter Harrison and Nick Kshatri are two of the top high school tennis players in the area. Putting them together to form a doubles team spells trouble for the rest of District 11.
Harrison and Kshatri proved that Monday when they quickly worked their way to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Pleasant Valley's Erik Ammermann and Jon White to win the District 11 doubles championship, which will send them to the PIAA Tournament in Hershey on May 22 and 23.
It was about 10 days ago when Parkland pounded Central Catholic 17-0 in a game shortened to four innings by the mercy rule. The team huddled for its usual postgame meeting on the outfield grass at Pate's Park and then headed to pack up its equipment.
Not so fast.
Two longtime friends met at Lehigh University in the District 11 Class AAA singles championship on Monday. Parkland's Nick Kshatri, the tournament's top seed, went up against Matt FitzMaurice of Emmaus, who was seeded second. The two have had some impressive matches during their high school careers and Monday's match was no different. This time, it was FitzMaurice coming away with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win and a trip to the PIAA Tournament in Hershey later this month.
It's extremely difficult for a high school baseball team to go undefeated. And in some cases, a loss along the way can actually be good for the team's outlook on the season.
A week ago, Parkland ran into a hungry Northampton team that not only handed the Trojans their first loss of the season, but threw a no-hitter at them, adding insult to injury.
The good news is that the next day, Parkland picked up their rain-suspended game with Emmaus and expanded the 6-0 first inning lead that they picked up when the game started back on April 7, turning it into a 13-0 rout.
The Lady Trojans are making softball look very easy this season. After a 17-0 drubbing of Central Catholic on Monday, Parkland is now 15-1 overall and 12-0 in the EPC. They've now outscored their opponents 170-13 this season, with their pitchers throwing eight shutouts and not allowing more than three runs in any one game.
Meanwhile, their offense has scored double-digit runs in eight games and have been held under five runs just twice.
Parkland has already clinched the Skyline Division title and a trip to the District 11 Tournament.
As if on cue, bad weather returned just in time to postpone the first day of the East Penn Conference Tennis Tournament last Friday at Parkland High School.
The early morning rain moved the tournament's opening rounds to Saturday, when players worked their way through matches to get the semifinal round in each of the six brackets. The semis, finals and consolation matches will be played at a later date, which is still undetermined.
Sophomore pitcher Aubree Fritzinger has led Parkland (13-0, 10-0) to an unbeaten record so far in her first year as a starting pitcher. Last Tuesday night, she made her mark on the program by throwing a complete game no-hitter in a 5-0 win against Whitehall in front of the home crowd.
"This is big for her confidence," said head coach Barry Search. "She's a competitor and an athlete, and is just doing a great job for us."
She struck out five batters and walked two, with an error credited to the defense behind her.