Monday, May 20th, 2024

Cavs slug past Panthers

Coldwater advances to its first regional since 2017

By Tom Haines
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Coldwater players celebrate as senior Madison Wendel hoists the district championship trophy following a 13-8 win over Parkway in the Division III district final at Bath High School on Saturday.

BATH TOWNSHIP - Coldwater watched on Thursday as Parkway erased a six-run deficit to advance to the district final.

When the Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, they made sure it stuck.

Coldwater scored seven runs in the first two innings, then added six in the last two to beat Parkway 13-8 at Bath High School, winning its first district title since 2017 and advancing to the Division III regional at Findlay.

"This was a big one for us, because we got beat at districts the last two years," Coldwater coach Kyle Ahrens said. "Our kids really wanted to get out of Bath this year. But we're just going to keep playing. I told our kids, there's no reason it should stop now."

Coldwater (18-11) will face West Jefferson, which beat Utica 10-8 at Pickerington Central on Saturday, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Oak Harbor and Castalia Margaretta will play in the second regional semifinal.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Parkway second baseman Adria Miller forces out Coldwater's Claire Steinke on a fielder's choice in the fourth inning.

The first time they met, Parkway coach Trey Stover intentionally walked 1-2 hitters Madison Wendel and Claire Steinke 10 times. They each scored a run when Rachel Schroyer hit a grand slam, but Parkway rallied to win 5-4 in extra innings.

Saturday, Stover walked both to start the first, then sent Wendel to first twice more. All four times, they came around to score, but when he let them hit, they combined to go 3-for-6 with three hits and four RBI.

"We talked about yesterday and we talked about it this morning, that we knew we were going to get opportunities and we had to make them pay for it," Ahrens said. "We did it in the first inning, in the second inning. That's probably the first game that I've gotten away from wanting to bunt the ball. I just let them swing, and the girls, it was unbelievable - 1 through 9, our entire lineup was producing today."

After the opening two walks, Schroyer slapped a ground ball that went off third baseman Emmery Temple's glove and into the outfield, and Wendel came around to score.

Pitcher Meg Henkle got a strikeout, then walked Avery Knapke to load the bases. Freshman Hailey Stough came up with two outs and lofted a pop fly down the right field line, where it dropped between second baseman Adria Miller and right fielder Audrey Nichols for a three-run double.

"With our strategy of walking Wendel and Steinke, we can't have that, obviously," Stover said. "We got them to hit a ground ball there a couple times, and we just couldn't make the play."

Ava Doll added a bloop single to score Stough before Henkle got out of the inning. In the second, the Cavaliers added another run after Wendel was intentionally walked and Dana Zahn clubbed a two-run home run over the left field fence.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Coldwater's Rachel Schroyer races home as Parkway catcher Abbi Taylor tries to corral a wild pitch in the sixth inning.

Parkway, which trailed 8-2 in the third against Van Buren in the district semifinals, wasted no time against Wendel. Paige Stephenson and Adria Miller beat out infield singles and Abbi Taylor worked a full-count walk, then Bryn Schoenleben lined a two-run single to left-center and Avery White hit a ground ball through the left side to score Schoenleben.

That put runners on first and second with one out, but Wendel bore down, striking out Brittyn Bruns and getting a groundout to end the inning. She worked around a leadoff single in the fourth, but Bruns cut the deficit to three in the fifth, leading off with a single and scoring on Henkle's grounder through the infield.

"We've faced her five times in the last four years," Stover said, "so these girls know each other very well. We had confidence that we could hit the ball, and we showed that today."

But Henkle was thrown out trying for second base on the throw home, and after three scoreless innings from Bruns, Coldwater's bats came to life again in the sixth.

The bottom of the order got the Cavaliers going, with Ava Doll lining a single down the right field line and Libby Grieshop hitting a drive to the left-center gap for a double.

Stover sent Wendel straight to first again, loading the bases with no outs. But there was no place to put Steinke, and she hit a ground ball that snuck past Henkle at third and Temple at short, making it 9-4.

Bruns gave way to Bryn Schoenleben, who walked in a run and allowed another to score on a wild pitch before getting out of the sixth.

But the Panthers went down in order in the bottom half, and Wendel crushed a no-doubt homer to score two more runs.

"We were up on them 4-0 earlier in the year, so we knew they were going to score and hit," Ahrens said. "That's just Parkway. Their offense is really, really good. So we knew we had to keep our foot on the gas, and credit to our kids in the sixth and the seventh for tacking on."

Despite facing a nine-run deficit, the Panthers kept fighting in the bottom of the seventh. White reached on a one-out error, Bruns singled, and after a strikeout, Henkle homered to right-center to make it 13-7.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Parkway senior Meg Henkle watches her three-run home run in the seventh inning against Coldwater.

Paige Stephenson beat out a ground ball to keep the game alive, and Adria Miller slugged a double to centerfield to score Stephenson before Wendel got a strikeout to end the game.

"That last inning is just a replica of what we've done all year long," Stover said. "We've never said die, we've battled to the end, and that's what we did today."

Doll had two hits for the Cavaliers, and Henkle, Bruns, Stephenson and Miller had two hits apiece for the Panthers. Coldwater also benefited from six unintentional walks, while Wendel only issued one.

Subscribe for $16/month

A year after reaching the Division IV state semifinals, Parkway ends its season at 21-4 and graduates six seniors, who all started against Coldwater and leave with a career record of 71-30.

"Their freshman year was the first year that I coached, so we've been through a lot," Stover said. "They've done a lot for Parkway softball, and I promised them that we're going to continue to work hard and keep the tradition going."

Subscriber and paid stories on this date
CELINA - Two area school superintendents responded to Gov. Mike DeWine's recent signing of a bill calling for districts to set policies regarding student use of cell phones during school hours.
District Track Roundup
Compiled by Gary R. Rasberry
Coldwater's Izzy Zahn earned three more titles on Saturday at the Division III track and field district meet held in Ada.
ROSSBURG - New Bremen's Drew Charlson has been close to visiting victory lane at Eldora Speedway a handful of times in the past three years only to be passed late in the race or mechanical issues with his UMP Modified preventing a visit to the famed victory stage.