Friday, May 30th, 2008
By Randy Bruns
Panthers cruise into regional title game
HUBER HEIGHTS - The Parkway Panthers are one win away from making their third trip to state in school history after blanking the Newton Indians by a score of 5-0 Thursday at Wayne High School.
The Panthers, now 18-6 on the year, will play Triad (18-9) Saturday for the Division IV regional championship and a shot at playing at the state level next week in Akron.
Parkway got things started with a bang in the first inning, as Emily Crowell and Hannah Beougher led off the game with a pair of doubles. Danielle Schoenleben then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Beougher to third, and Megan Ketchum followed with a groundout that made the score 2-0.
"We've been the visitors in every (tournament) game except for one, and I told the kids that being the visitors is fine as long as you score first," said Parkway coach Mark Esselstein. "That's not something we were very good at during the regular season, but in the past three games we've been able to score at least one in the first inning."
As it turned out, those two first-inning runs would be all the Panthers would need thanks to a lights-out pitching performance from Crowell. The freshman cruised through the first four innings without allowing a hit and surrendered just one walk early on.
Parkway tacked on another run in the fourth after Schoenleben drilled a double to the leftfield fence and came around to score on a single by Theah Bourelle. Then in the fifth, Lindsay Shellabarger reached on an infield single and later scored on a Beougher groundout.
Crowell was finally touched for a hit in the bottom of the fifth and put Indians runners at first and second after issuing a walk. The Parkway lefty quickly buckled down, however, by striking out the next two batters to end the threat.
The Panthers added their final run in the seventh on a single by Crowell, and youngster later finished off the Indians in the bottom of the frame with her ninth punchout of the game.
"Emily was in control and the defense made the plays behind her," said Esselstein. "When you mix in her strikeouts with the confidence she has in our fielders, it makes the game a lot easier. The key inning was the fifth when they had two runners out and she got out of it. That was the turning point in the game."
In addition to her mastery on the mound, Crowell also did some major damage at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. Beougher chipped in with two hits and a pair of runs batted in.
Esselstein saw his team limp out of the gate this year with a 7-5 start, but a thrashing at the hands of Marion Local turned things around for good.
"We got beat something like 11-0 by Marion Local at home, and we had like nine errors," said Esselstein. "We didn't field the ball, we didn't hustle as well as we needed to, and we hung our heads when we made mistakes. We had a brisk, hard practice the next day and we just worked so hard and we've looked like a totally different team since then."
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