Brenna Zavecz normally starts at first base for the Parkland softball team.
But with a left foot injury, she sat on the bench for the Trojans for the first six innings of Thursday’s key Pennsylvania Eastern Conference game at Emmaus.
In a big spot at the top of the seventh, Parkland coach Barry Search asked Zavecz if she could play.
Zavecz, a junior, said she could, so Search sent her to home plate with the bases loaded and Zavecz cleared them with a booming triple right deep.
The three-point triple capped a five-point uprising for the Trojans that opened a 3-3 game and sent Parkland to an 8-3 victory that should provide a boost to entry into the EPC tournament at eight teams next week.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty with Brenna about what’s going to happen with her foot, so it took courage for her to get up and do this,” Search said. “When I walked up to her and asked her if she could play I didn’t know how she would answer. She said she could and I thought it was wonderful that she would respond. I know she hurt and it was uncomfortable for her, but when she hit the ball and ran around the bases, I think the pain went away.
Zavecz said she was just happy to help her team, whether on the bench or on the pitch.
“I was just happy to be able to play in this game and make a difference in the score at the end,” she said. “It didn’t feel good to sit on the bench, but I like to support my team wherever I am. They are my sisters and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Zavecz said that when she got the assignment, she didn’t blink.
“I just thought it was time, and it’s now or never and I’m going to have to do it now,” she said. “It was one of my best hits of the season. It was so amazing and I was so happy it had such a big impact.
The Parkland bench erupted in celebration.
The Trojans had already taken the lead in the seventh on an RBI single from rookie Allison Hunsberger and another RBI single from Evelyn Montone, but Zavecz’s hit gave Parkland plenty of breathing room and senior pitcher Ashlyn Hillanbrand was able to finish it off. with the help of a double game at the end of the seventh.
The Trojans, who have been overshadowed by EPC West Division rivals Northampton, Emmaus and Whitehall for most of the season, improved to 13-3 and 12-3 in the EPC with Whitehall to play on Monday to close the league schedule. They are in a tight race for a top-four seed and a quarter-final home game on May 12, when the tournament is due to begin.
“Every game comes down to one set and today we pulled it off,” Search said. “It’s gratifying to see them working so hard. It was one of those seasons. I mean, it started hard when, in our first game, our cleanup hitter and team captain, Katie Gontkosky, blew her knee. It was against Abington Heights and she hit a ball to the fence and we would have gotten two runs on her shot but she was crawling along the first base line and they took her out first and we got lost this game [3-1] and especially lost Katie. So we’ve battled adversity ever since.
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Emmaus beat Parkland 2-0 in their first meeting of the season on April 13. In the eight-inning game, the Trojans were limited to five hits and struck out 10 against Green Hornets ace Danika Barthol.
In the rematch, Barthol fanned 11 but Parkland had 13 hits. The top five batters in the Trojan order – Jenna Piatkiewicz, Hunsberger, Cassidy Sweeney, Shana Gugliandolo and Montone combined for 12 of them and scored all eight runs and had five RBIs.
“I think we can be dangerous if we can stay focused,” Piatkiewicz said. “We just have to keep our head in the game every game and not take a game out.”
“This win is huge for us as a team because it boosts our confidence,” Gugliandolo said. “We were out for a few games but we came here and had fun and did a good job. I think we can do it in the playoffs if we just believe in each other. We have a great team. We just need to come together.
Emmaus (15-4, 12-3) now faces the same task.
“We just took too many third strikes called today,” said Green Hornets coach Rich Giering, whose team got four hits from leadoff Daria Krout but only three from the rest of the team. . “We have had [Hillanbrand] in trouble right away when Daria tripled to start the end of the first set but we couldn’t get her in. I told them that if they don’t want to swing the bats, we’ll have to play low ball and start drizzling. They won’t like it, so we have to swing the bats more.
Emmaus, which is also trying to secure a top-four seed, wraps up the regular season at Allentown Central Catholic on Monday.