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Friday, May 11th, 2007

Parkway gets the comeback win

Panthers give up 5-0 lead, then come back to win 9-8 to advance

By Gary R. Rasberry

Parkway's Jan Boroff is greeted by teammates and assistant coach Kris Penhorwood. . .

ELIDA - Perseverance.
It was the word of the day for the Parkway softball team.
After leading 5-0 after three innings, the wheels fell off a bit for Parkway as Paulding scored four times in the fourth, then plated three runs in the sixth to take an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh.  
That's where Parkway learned that perseverance can lead to good things.
Elaine Crowell's two-run home run tied the game, then Theah Bourelle lofted a deep fly to score Daneille Schoenleben to give Parkway a 9-8 win in the Division III sectional final at Dorothy Edwards Field in Elida.
That puts Parkway (12-5) into another district semifinal matchup with MAC rival Coldwater on Tuesday at Elida, just five days after the teams meet in Coldwater for the other share of the MAC title. Paulding ends its season at 7-12.
The game was one of highest highs and lowest lows for Parkway in this battle of Panthers. Early on it looked like Parkway would run away with the game, especially after senior Jan Boroff belted one over the center field fence to cap off a five-run inning for Parkway.
Things changed quickly in the top of the fourth as Paulding sent nine batters to the plate and came away with four runs, two of them thanks to some shaky defense that had coach Mark Esselstein shaking his head.
"Both teams played a lot of giveaway," said Esselstein, a reference to the fact that the teams combined for 10 errors. "Typically, if we get up 5-0, we're in pretty good shape. Then we turn around. They hit a lot of balls hard, but we helped them and let them get back into the game. The next ininng was when we needed to shut them down and say it's our ballgame. We didn't do that.
"We had to scrape and fight. It seemed like they got a base hit leading off every stinking inning (actually just in three innings)," said Esselstein. "That put a lot of pressure on the defense and we made I don't know how many errors, but it was ugly."
After Parkway added a run in the bottom of the fourth to make it a two-run game, Paulding came back with a run in the fifth and what could have been the spirit breaker in the sixth when three
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runs came across when the Parkway defense had another hiccup to make the score 8-6.
Paulding pitcher Kelsie Carnahan shut down Parkway in the bottom of the sixth and looked to do the same in the bottom of the seventh.
Megan Smith set the tone, doubling to left to start the bottom of the seventh. Crowell stepped up and took Carnahan's 0-1 offering over the fence in left center to tie the game and re-kindle the Parkway faithful's hopes. The hopes got higher when Danielle Schoenleben, one of the top hitters in the area, doubled to bring up Boroff. The senior catcher looked for the fences again, but lofted a fly to center for the first out. Jamie Guggenbiller followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt that Paulding first baseman Maycee Adams could not hold on to put runners on first and third. Paulding opted to have Hannah Beougher walked to load the bases for Bourelle.
Bourelle, who had two errors on the day that kept Paulding going on offense, looked to get the ball into the grass and deep enough to score. After the count went 1-1, Bourelle caught her pitch and lofted it deep to left. Chantelle Weidenhamer caught the ball, but it was too deep to make a play as Schoenleben trotted home to end the game.
"She almost put it out. That was deep," said Esselstein our Bourelle's fly ball. "We got really good at-bats that last inning. The kids really focused and let the ball come to them and hit it on the nose. That was great to see."
With a team that had just a couple of starters returning this season, Esselstein knew his seniors would have to step up through the season. They did on Thursday.
"Our seniors (Boroff, Crowell, Megan Smith and Tiffany Baltzell) really came through in big moments today," said Esselstein. "Jan crushed the ball her first time, ... then hit the two run homer. Last inning Megan ropes one and Elaine hits one over. Schoeny, a junior who's been hitting well for us, gets on. It just builds from there.
"We did persevere, but we have to play a whole lot better to advance beyond this."
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