Friday, April 13th, 2018
Cavs knock off defending champion Panthers
By Colin Foster
Coldwater's Grace Bruns secures the ball to get an out on Parkway's Bailey Stric. . .
COLDWATER - It's been a disappointing start to the season for the Coldwater softball team.
But the Cavaliers were all smiles after Thursday's performance.
Coldwater shook up the Midwest Athletic Conference world with an 8-5 victory over defending champion Parkway, which entered the contest unbeaten.
"I told the girls after every loss that we have glimpses of greatness," Berno said. "We play a solid five or six innings and then we have that one bad inning. That one bad inning has been killing us all season. Tonight we put it together and we played all seven innings. I told them that that's the Coldwater team we saw last year and that's the Coldwater team we expect to see the rest of the season. We have the potential. Hopefully this is the big win that's going to put us on track."
Parkway stood at 5-0 and 1-0 in MAC play coming into the game. Coldwater was 1-5 and 0-1 in conference play.
This matchup, however, was far from David versus Goliath. Both teams returned veteran players from deep tournament runs last season, but the Cavs just made more plays en route to defeating the Panthers for the first time since 2008.
"We didn't make the defensive plays we needed to," said Parkway assistant coach Teri Samples, filling in for head coach Mark Esselstein. "Hopefully we come back and are ready to work hard again tomorrow. Tomorrow's a new day. I can't take anything away from Coldwater. They put a lot of balls in play. Smart coaching to keep switching up the pitchers. It kept us off-balance at the plate."
In the top of the first, Mackenzie Sipe singled and Bailey Strickler reached base on an error. Reigning MAC Player of the Year Haley Hawk gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with an RBI double.
The Cavs tied the game in the bottom half of the inning. Leadoff hitter Olivia Harlamert was walked and advanced to second on a fielder's choice. Maura Hoying's grounder to short was overthrown at first, allowing Harlamert to even up the score.
And Coldwater built a 4-1 lead in the second thanks to a three-run blast to center field by Kelsey Kahlig.
Hawk hit a single with one out in the third. After her pinch runner, Courtney Lies, reached second on a wild pitch, Bailey Bates came through with an RBI single and later scored on a hit by Lauren Henderson that chopped the deficit to 4-3.
Hawk gave back the lead to the Panthers two innings later with a two-run shot to left off relief pitcher Maddie Steinke.
Steinke, however, didn't allow a run the rest of the way.
The Cavs reclaimed the lead for good in the bottom half of the fifth. Hoying singled to start the frame and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. She scored when Steinke's grounder to second was thrown past the first baseman. Grace Bruns followed with the go-ahead RBI single. Rachel Klosterman had a base hit and then Kelsey Kahlig looped another run-scoring single to shallow right.
Steinke retired the side in the sixth, striking out the final two batters of the inning. In the bottom half, she hit a double-play ball to score Madissen Geeslin, who had led with a walk, advanced to second on a fielder's choice and then stole third.
Hawk delivered her fourth hit of the night, a single, to begin the seventh off Leanne Klenke, who returned to the mound after having pitched the first three innings. Steinke allowed a single to Bates on the next at-bat. But Lauren Henderson lined out to Hoying at second. Hoying doubled up Bates at first on the play. And with one last 4-3 putout, Coldwater knocked Parkway from the unbeaten ranks.
"That double play at the end was crucial, the girl catching it and throwing it over," Samples said. "And Bailey Bates is a great player. She knows she needs to dive back. She just wasn't quick enough."
"Whoever wins the MAC isn't going to have many losses, but I don't think anybody's going to go undefeated in the MAC," Berno said. "Parkway's way too strong. Versailles is way too strong. Minster's got a great team. I don't think anybody's going to go undefeated in the MAC … We just made reality come true."
Kahlig finished 2-for-3 for Coldwater with a home run and four RBIs. Hoying contributed two hits. Steinke was the winning pitcher, allowing two runs on four hits over the final four innings. Klenke gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits in three-plus innings of work.
"We have two great little pitchers, Leanne and Maddie, and we knew we were going to use a combination of the two pitchers coming into today to try to keep them off-balance," Berno said. "They both did a great job."
Hawk went 4-for-4 with a double, a homer and three RBIs. She also went the distance from the pitcher's rubber, allowing nine hits in a losing effort. Bates added two hits for Parkway.