Emmaus softball reaches EPC final
Maybe it’s Tina The Turtle, or maybe it’s something else. Tina, a stuffed turtle who can generally be found watching Emmaus softball games from atop the water dispenser, has become a good luck charm for Emmaus softball. As proud as Tina may be of her role, the players are using more than luck to produce wins, as they’ve advanced to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference title game with wins over Stroudsburg and Liberty.
Against Stroudsburg last Friday, Hannah Palinkas threw a no-hitter as Emmaus bested the Mounties 6-0 in the quarterfinals. Palinkas, who struck out 12 against Stroudsburg, whiffed 13 in the 3-2 extra innings win over Liberty.
Palinkas remained poised in both games, and didn’t let the pressure of a potential no-hitter get to her, probably because she wasn’t even thinking about the achievement.
“At the end of the game,” said the sophomore pitcher about when she started to let herself think about a no-hitter. “Through the game I just keep going out there. Then at the end of the game, I’m thinking that it was great to have.”
“She was on fire,” said Emmaus head coach John Eyer. “She was throwing hard. I think one of the better performances was earlier in the year when we lost to Parkland and then faced Whitehall the next day, and she was on fire against Whitehall. We won 6-1 and she was as good that day as she was today. It’s great to have the no-hitter, but I think she’s just happy to have the team win and keep moving on.”
Against Stroudsburg, 12 of the 13 hits for Emmaus (19-3) were singles, with just a triple from Maddie Clark going for extra bases. The singles were made more significant by heads-up baserunning and bunching hits throughout the game.
“I’ve been stressing that to them,” said Eyer about the small-ball approach. “Everybody is trying to hit the long-ball, and I said ‘that will come. There are nine of you in the order. If you all hit singles, we’ll score a lot of runs.’ We’ve been stressing that, because we’ve been giving too many fly ball outs. They’ve been working on it and we just keep going.”
Megan Purinton had two of the singles against Liberty, driving in three runs in the game, and is completely on board with taking things one base at a time.
“We’re doing good,” said Putinton. “We just keep getting base hits and moving them around with singles and we’re doing really good with that.”
Ironically, against Liberty, it was a home run from sophomore catcher Abby Bartels that gave Emmaus a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth. Palinkas put down the Hurricanes in the bottom of the inning to push Emmaus into the championship game against rival Parkland. Bartels also singled earlier in the game when she drove home Clark, who had also singled earlier in the inning.
Second baseman Cassie Burke doubled home Cayley Grabowski in the top of the sixth inning to plate Emmaus’ other run against Liberty. Burke has had three hits in each of the playoff games for Emmaus.
Emmaus and Parkland will meet for the third time this season at Patriot’s Park in Allentown Thursday at 5 p.m. Parkland (21-0) won each of the first two regular season meetings. Emmaus last won a conference championship in 2001.
“Things this season just feel different for us,” said Palinkas. “I think it feels different now because we didn’t make the postseason last year, so that’s a big difference.”