Minster Claims MAC Crown

Minster Athletic Director Josh Clune hands the 2018 Midwest Athletic Conference softball champions trophy to members of the Minster Wildcats softball team on Thursday after their 10-8 win over Parkway.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

In three of their last four meetings against each other, Minster and Parkway combined for 18 runs or more, with the Panthers winning all four of those match-ups.

And Thursday was almost the same outcome, except Minster won this time.

Scoring a combined 18 runs, the Wildcats outlasted the Panthers — last season's defending Midwest Athletic Conference champions — with a 10-8 victory at Four Seasons Park.

"The girls were hitting tonight for both programs and that is a credit to both programs," Wildcats coach Robb Hemmelgarn said. "They are both great hitting teams and they came out and hit the ball tonight."

In two of those four Parkway wins, the Panthers clinched the conference title and advanced to the regional tournament — both times against Minster last season, but the tables were flipped on Thursday as the No. 4 ranked Wildcats (16-5, 7-0 MAC) claimed their first MAC crown since 2014 against the state's top team in Division IV play.

"They (Parkway) are the barometer that we measure ourselves and somewhere we want to get to," Hemmelgarn said.

The Wildcats greeted Parkway (14-2, 5-2) — who has become an archival of late — by scoring in the first five innings, leading by as much as five runs, 6-1, through three innings off Parkway starter and last season's All-Ohio selection Haley Hawk.

Karly Richard opened her first two at-bats with a double and a single, scoring both times thanks to Jenna Poeppelman's fielder's choice in the first inning and Danielle Barhorst's RBI single in the third. Taylor Homan also scored to give Minster an early 3-0 lead through two frames of play.

But the Wildcats tallied three more runs in the bottom half of their order beginning with Emily Stubbs reaching on a fielder's choice. Alice Schmiesing drew a one-out walk in the next at-bat and Laney Hemmelgarn plated Stubbs with an RBI double.

Emma Schmiesing scored in her sister as well as Hemmelgarn for a two-run single.

Parkway, however, eventually tied the game, overcoming its aforementioned five-run deficit in the top of the fifth inning. 

Layne Claudy scored McKenna Temple on an error by Barhorst in center field, followed by a two-out RBI single by Bailey Strickler to close the gap to 8-6. Hawk was intentionally walked before Macy Henkle scored on a passed ball to tie the game.

All of a sudden, that five-run lead was gone and Parkway had all the momentum, but Hemmelgarn and his players never wavered.

Poeppelman pitched the distance while allowing eight runs — three earned — on nine hits. She struck out six and walked seven batters.