The South Parkland Trojans did pretty well for themselves in Lehigh Valley Legion play this season, putting five players on the roster for the annual all-star contest against a team of all-stars from the Schuylkill-Berks League. Pitcher Nate Leaswitch not only was named the Lehigh Valley League Pitcher of the Week for the final week of the regular season, but was named to the pitching staff for the all-star game.
It was hard to know at the time, but when North Parkland faced Carbon County in the play-in round of the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs, the Buffaloes were facing a team putting everything together at just the right time.
Carbon battled its way through to the championship round after having won just six games during the regular season.
North Parkland, which finished the regular season with five wins, was hoping that its run would turn out much like Carbon’s did, but with a much younger team, the Buffaloes’ task was even tougher.
Last year, South Parkland went to the championship round of the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs only to lose two straight one-run games and miss gaining a trip to regionals. This season, the Trojans came into the championship in the same situation, needing just one win to become league champs and they didn’t want to take any chances.
Dylan Peiffer threw a complete game and some timely offense led the Trojans to a 5-3 win over Carbon County, sending South Parkland to the Region 2 playoffs, which begin Saturday in West Lawn.
South Parkland wrapped up the regular season schedule Sunday night knowing that its spot in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs was secured. With that in mind, the Trojans were somewhat relieved because they were without four top players for the finale.
Even without those players, South Parkland beat Emmaus 4-1 and finished the season 10-6-1 for fourth place in the 10-team league.
North Parkland went up against a team on a mission recently when it faced Lower Macungie on Sunday. Lower Mac was fighting to avoid having to make the playoffs through a play-in game.
The Buffaloes knew that it was going to have to be win a play-in game for the playoffs, but was looking to send a message as the postseason approached.
Since playing to a 0-0 tie against Coplay, South Parkland has pulled things together and has won six straight Lehigh Valley Legion games by a combined score of 49-10. That stretch includes a 13-1 win over rival North Parkland Tuesday night, upping the Trojans record to 9-5-1, leaving them just five points out of first place as the Lehigh Valley Legion heads into the final weekend of the regular season.
Tuesday night’s game was shortened to five innings by the league’s mercy rule.
The last week has been a difficult one for North Parkland’s Legion team. The Buffaloes were swept over the weekend by Coplay, falling by 4-3 and 18-1 scores. On Tuesday, North Parkland dropped a game to rival South Parkland 13-1 in five innings.
The Buffaloes got off to a good start against South Parkland when Carson Fracas and Alex Brosius delivered back-to-back one out doubles, with Brosius driving home Fracas with the go-ahead run, making it 1-0. There was no way of telling that from that strong start North Parkland would go on to struggle for hits through the rest of the game.
The Parkland softball team never takes anything for granted. Even though they were 25-0 on the season coming into the District 11 Championship, the Trojans knew that anything could happen. They attacked the game just as they had all 25 other games this season, with a strong senior pitcher on the mound in Aubree Fritzinger and a balanced offense that had different contributors from game-to-game.
For the optimists in the room, Parkland has won three of the last five District 11 baseball championships. The pessimists will dwell on the fact that two years in a row now, Parkland has been in the district final, but didn’t put away a win to take home gold.
This year’s foray into the championship game ended with a 2-1 loss to Liberty in extra innings. A ninth-inning sacrifice fly from Caleb Tereska drove home what proved to be the winning run.
It certainly wasn’t their easiest win of the season, but it may have been their most persistent. An eighth-inning single from Mackenzie Wolf plated the game-winning run as Parkland downed Easton 2-1 in the District 11 semifinals. The win puts Parkland into the district championship against Liberty Thursday at Patriots Park. The win also guarantees the Trojans a spot in the PIAA Tournament, which gets underway Monday.