Friday, May 4th, 2018

Wildcats clinch outright title

By Gary R. Rasberry
Photo by Mark Pummell/The Daily Standard

Minster players, from left, Karly Richard, Taylor Homan and Emma Schmiesing celebrate after having defeated Parkway 10-8 to clinch an outright MAC softball title.

MINSTER - The way his team has played this season and considering the opponent, Minster softball coach Robb Hemmelgarn knew Thursday's game with Parkway just couldn't be a 1-0 pitchers' duel.
The Wildcats jumped out early, watched the Panthers rally to tie the game and then scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to hold on for a 10-8 win to clinch the program's second MAC softball title and first since 2014 at Four Seasons Park.
"It wouldn't be this season if it weren't interesting at some point," said Hemmelgarn after the trophy presentation. "Both teams were hitting the ball tonight. That's a credit to both teams."
Minster (16-5, 7-0 MAC) jumped out on Parkway early with two runs in the first, another run in the second and then three runs in the third that forced Panther pitcher Haley Hawk from the mound. Macy Henkle came on to get the Panthers out of the jam.
Wildcat pitcher Jenna Poeppelman got through the first two innings unscathed and allowed a run in the third on Bailey Bates' RBI single. In the fourth, though, Parkway (14-3, 5-2 MAC) began to crawl back. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases for Henkle, who singled home Alyssa Miller. After a fly out, coach Hemmelgarn chose to walk Hawk to load the bases for Bates, who blooped a single over second base to score Courtney Lies. Layne Claudy later came home on a wild pitch to cut Minster's lead to 6-4.
"We showed a lot of fight," Parkway coach Mark Esselstein said. "We made some mistakes on defense and (Minster) is such a good hitting team and aggressive on the bases, so you can't give them extra outs."
Minster wasted no time re-padding its lead. Danielle Barhorst doubled and came home via an error. Emily Stubbs later scored on Emma Schmiesing's RBI single to raise the lead to 8-4.
Parkway responded by tying the game in the top of the fifth. Poeppelman allowed two straight singles and a walk to load the bases for Claudy, who reached base on a dropped fly ball to score Mecaylah Hesse. Henkle followed with a grounder that was thrown home for the force out. After a pop-out, Bailey Strickler singled home Lies. Minster then conceded a run by walking Hawk, brining home Claudy. A wild pitch allowed Henkle to score the tying run before Poeppelman got a strikeout to end the threat.
Again, Minster didn't wait long to respond. Karly Richard led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch before coming home on Barhorst's single. One out later, Poeppelman doubled home Barhorst.
"The way the game was going - we were hitting well and being patient on the bases - we were hopeful they would keep going the same way. And we did," Hemmelgarn said of the winning rally.
"They got hits at key times," Esselstein said. "We left a lot of people on base (nine). We hit a lot of balls at people. (Minster) found gaps."
Poeppelman shut the door over the final two Parkway at-bats, retiring the side in order in the sixth and after allowing a leadoff walk to Claudy in the seventh, and enticed Henkle to line out to Lindsay Albers at third, who then threw to first to double up Claudy. Sipe ended the game by flying out to center.
"It's hard to get down to good teams and come back," Esselstein said. "We had opportunities with bases loaded where one big hit changes the complexion of the game. I like how we battled back and kept our heads in (the game). (Minster) deserved to win today and hopefully down the road we'll get a chance to redeem ourselves."
"I respect Parkway's program more than you can imagine," Hemmelgarn said. "They're the barometer we measure ourselves in where we want to get to. We gave them everything we had, fortunately it was enough."
Photo by Mark Pummell/The Daily Standard

Minster's Jenna Poeppelman hits an RBI fielder's choice during Thursday's MAC softball battle with Parkway.

Photo by Mark Pummell/The Daily Standard

Parkway's Layne Claudy, left, applies the tag to Minster's Mara Schmiesing during Thursday's MAC softball game.

Additional online story on this date
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Compiled by Gary R. Rasberry
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