High School Sports

High school softball: Parkland wins school’s third state title of year

They should be getting used to these victory parades in Allentown.

Every time a team wins a PIAA title the fire company holds a parade for the winners. It had already held two of them this year to celebrate the volleyball titles won by Parkland’s boys’ and girls’ teams. Now the softball team earned a ride through the city too.

“I belong to the fire company and we run the parade so these girls will have one,’’ said Parkland coach Barry Search after his team edged Cumberland Valley, 4-3, in a Class AAAA nail-biter on Penn State’s Beard Field. “We usually have 15 or 20 trucks in the parade. They’re going to have one as soon as we get home from here.’’

The game didn’t lack for drama, from a huge home run to a bizarre, game-winning hit to a tense battle between Parkland pitcher Aubree Fritzinger and Cumberland Valley’s Taylor Haupt.

Parkland took the early lead when Taylor Knapenberger led off the first with a single, went to second when Abby Fritzinger was hit by a pitch and took third on a fielder’s choice by Emma Varrato. Madison Marshall drove them both home with a single to dead center but was thrown out at second.

Cumberland Valley got those runs back in the fourth when Bloomsburg-bound Alexa Erney homered off the scoreboard - she homered over the 220-foot sign in center field in an earlier 15-1 playoff win over Mifflin County. The ball was hit so hard it bounced back onto the field and the umpires initially ruled it a ground-rule double. Alison Noga followed that with a sharp single and eventually moved to third as rain began to fall. With one out Haupt and Fritzinger dueled in the rain as Haupt worked the count full and fouled off five pitches before lining a double over the head of left fielder Marshall. Play was stopped after Fritzinger walked Elizabeth Scott and when it resumed Fritzinger struck out Shelby Mumma.

“I looked down at my first base coach (Randy Kinsey) and he was smiling and said, ‘You got this.’ and that helped me,’’ Haupt said of the duel. “I couldn’t’ have done it without the support of my coaches and teammates. I didn’t even see it go over her head, I was just running.’’

Parkland broke the 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fourth on a single by Chelsea Morgan, a sacrifice fly and Sydney Stibitz’s single to left that got past the outfielder.

In the fifth Cumberland Valley retied the game when Taylor Krow opened the inning with a single, took second on an error and scored on a single by Summer Keefer.

Again, Parkland answered.

With one out in the sixth inning Samantha Pickar lined a single off pitcher Jennifer Hanshaw and the ball caromed toward third base and into left field, putting her on second. She scored the game-winner from there on a single by Kyleigh Staudt.

“Nine times out of 10 Jen catches that ball and throws to first,’’ said Cumberland Valley coach Gregg Williams. “Our girls really battled. They did all they could. Sometimes you need a break or two to win and sometimes you don’t get that break. We had a couple of opportunities and momentum was going our way and then something would happen and took that momentum away.

“But our kids battled the whole way. It’s not like we handed this game to them (Parkland), they earned it.

“We just played our game,’’ Search said. “We wanted to put the ball in play and make some defensive plays. But you can’t play balls hit off the scoreboard. My hat’s off to Cumberland Valley. They are well-coached, their kids played hard and did a great job.’’

Fritzinger allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out four while Hanshaw allowed eight hits, a walk and had no strikeouts. Morgan was the only player with more than one hit.