Park softball: Wolfpack wins playoff openerThe Park softball team made a habit of taking early leads and almost letting them slip away, but held on to win their last two games – 9-8 over Cretin-Derham Hall in the regular-season finale and 6-5 over Rosemount in the Section 3AAA tournament opener last week.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
The Park softball team made a habit of taking early leads and almost letting them slip away, but held on to win their last two games – 9-8 over Cretin-Derham Hall in the regular-season finale and 6-5 over Rosemount in the Section 3AAA tournament opener last week.
“That’s kind of been the storyline all year,” Park head coach Bob Loshek said. “We’ve played really well at times, but at times we’ve let teams back in the game. That just comes from the inexperience and youth we have on the team.”
Park is fielding two eighth graders, one freshman, six sophomores, three juniors and one senior this year. The Wolfpack ended the year 6-12 in the Suburban East Conference and is currently 7-13 overall.
In the section opener seventh-seeded Park took a 6-1 lead with a four-run third inning against 10th seeded Rosemount. The Irish (6-11) came close – cutting the deficit to 6-5 with a run in the fifth inning, two runs in the sixth inning and a run in the seventh inning – but Park hung on. The game ended on a double play as Gwen Warling, Mary Turitto and Sam Flack orchestrated a perfect relay to cut down a Rosemount runner trying to tag up and advance to third base for the final out.
“The game got closer than we would have liked, but our defense made plays and stepped up when they needed to,” Loshek said.
Park sophomore Amber Galloway led the way from the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI and junior Kennedy Henderson earned the win from the pitchers circle, scattering seven hits.
“When you get to the playoffs everybody is 0-0 and anyone can beat anyone,” Loshek said. “Anything can happen.”
Prior to the playoff victory, Park earned a 9-8 win over Cretin-Derham Hall (7-12; 7-11 SEC) in the regular-season finale on Monday at Park High School. It was also senior day – and the Wolfpack honored senior player Kayla Hemmingson, along with senior team managers.
“Any win is a good win,” Loshek said. “It was a good game, especially at home on senior day. It was good to get a win for those seniors.”
Park had leads of 5-4, 6-5 and 7-6 in the back-and-forth game.
With two outs and the score tied 8-8 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Warling – an eighth grader – knocked a walk-off single scoring sophomore Kathy Melton to win the game.
Park had 13 hits in the game. The Wolfpack was led by junior Mary Turitto, who was 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBI. It was her fourth home run of the year. In addition, Henderson was 3-for-4 with two RBI and Galloway earned her fourth win of the year on the rubber.
“To beat teams in our conference you have to come to play every day,” Loshek said. “If we can score enough runs we usually put ourselves in a good position. We just need our pitching and defense to back it up.”
Park took on No. 2 seed Lakeville North (15-4) on Monday, May 21, after the Bulletin went to press, in the second round of the Section 3AAA tournament. A win would move Park into the double-elimination portion of the playoffs, but a loss ends the Wolfpack’s season.
Lakeville North is ranked ninth in Class AAA.
“The kids just have to believe,” Loshek said. “It starts with that. If they don’t believe we have no shot.”