If one were to list the best local high school baseball games of the regular season, it’s possible that number-two would be Emmaus’ 3-1 win over Parkland early in the season.
The top game would have to be the 1-0 Emmaus win over Parkland in 16 innings in a rematch of the two teams at Community Park. That made the third go-around, in the semifinals of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs that much more interesting.
The Emmaus Hornets are a very young softball team.
Last week, they got to experience championship varsity softball for the first time when they faced Parkland with the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Championship on the line. Parkland (23-0) used a senior and a sophomore to pull out a 1-0 win in a closely-contested game at Allentown’s Patriots Park.
Emmaus pitcher Matt Lanzone had to suffer through a strange and controversial first inning that resulted in three runs for Freedom, but he settled in well and kept his team in position for seventh-inning heroics and a 4-3 win over the Patriots in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference quarterfinals at Emmaus Community Park Monday night.
For 18 seasons now, John Eyer has led the Emmaus High School softball program through a lot of successful seasons. In 2000, Eyer took the team to its only state championship and he’s guided it through ups and downs in every season since.
The ups have well outweighed the downs, to the point where Eyer recently celebrated his 250th win as the Emmaus coach.
The team is experiencing a resurgence this season as it plays in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs, looking for its first conference championship since 2001.
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.
The Emmaus softball team was looking forward to putting its eight-game winning streak on the line against Parkland on Monday, but Mother Nature had other plans.
The Lady Trojans (8-0 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, 10-0 overall) are the only team to have dealt Emmaus a loss this season, and the Hornets aren’t shying away from getting another shot at the Trojans. Because of a wet playing field, they will now meet Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Kiwanis Field.
The 2017 tennis season is turning out to be a very difficult one for Emmaus and longtime coach Dimitri Diamandopoulos. After graduating seven of his nine starters from last season, Diamandopoulos knew there was some heavy lifting to be done, but when his two remaining returning starters both suffered injuries, things got really tough.
“In my 25 years of coaching, I’ve never had a season like this where we’ve had so many injuries,” said Diamandopoulos. “We’ve been able to hang in there against some teams, but it certainly hasn’t been easy.”
A week from now, the regular season for high school tennis will be over, and the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Tournament will have crowned a champion. For Emmaus, a big 6-0 start has shrunk to a 6-3 record, with losses to Nazareth (10-1, 11-1), Parkland (11-1, 12-1) and Northampton (7-5, 8-5). The losing skid has come at the hands of some of the best teams in the area, and everybody knew the final stretch of the season was going to be a difficult one.
While their opponents from Blue Mountain High School were going through infield practice Saturday, the Lady Hornets were having a sing along around their bench. Perhaps they want to add the ‘80s girl’s anthem Girls Just Want to Have Fun to their playlist. The song may be too outdated for them, but it’s really what their team is all about this season.
With Parkland’s Michael Jenkins making it tough to score runs, Emmaus coach Mike Mihalik decided to have his team get a little aggressive late in the game Monday, and it paid off. The end result was a 3-2 Emmaus win and momentum going into other big games.
With the game scoreless going to the top of the sixth inning, Jake Hahn led off with a base-hit, which opened the door to being more aggressive for the Hornets (4-1 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, 6-2 overall). Zach Schrader followed with a well-executed hit-and-run to move pinch-runner Randy Weldon to second with one out.