The players on the Emmaus softball team were understandably upset after their loss to Liberty in the district semifinals. As the team gathered on an out-of-the-way set of bleachers at Patriots Park, more tears started to flow. Then, assistant coach Amy Oswald, who played for coach John Eyer on a team that won districts 10 years earlier, started to wipe tears from her eyes.
With two pretty young teams, you get the feeling that Emmaus and Liberty are set for some pretty big battles over the next couple of seasons.
The first two real salvos in the war came in softball’s postseason this year when Emmaus downed the Hurricanes 3-2 in eight innings in the EPC semifinal before Liberty took revenge, winning the District 11 Semifinals 11-2 over the Hornets last week at Patriots Park in Allentown.
When the District 11 baseball semifinal game against Liberty went extra innings, fans had to figure that Emmaus had a bit of an advantage. After all, the Hornets were the team that battled Parkland to a 16-inning, 1-0 win during the regular season, so playing longer games was nothing new to them.
The Baseball Gods had other ideas on Monday as Liberty erased a two-run deficit with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to beat Emmaus 4-3 and end the Hornets’ season.
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.”