Minster Softball Wins Outright MAC Championship

Staff Writer

It was a game befitting  the top two teams in the Midwest Athletic Conference. There was clutch hitting throughout, a major rally that saw a five-run deficit erased and even an intentional walk with the bases loaded.

In the end Minster emerged with an outright Midwest Athletic Conference championship.

Minster clinched the MAC crown — the  second in program history —with a wild 10-8 win over Parkway on Thursday at Four Seasons Park.

The Wildcats scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, runs that would prove to be the difference after Parkway had stormed back from a 6-1 deficit to briefly tie the game 8-8 in the top of the fifth inning.

Karly Richard, who played a key role sparking rallies throughout the game, started off the deciding bottom of the fifth with a single to left field and moved to third base on a pitches to the backstop. Danielle Barhorst followed with a groundball that turned into a Parkway error and allowed Richard to come home and break the tie. Two batters later Jenna Poeppelman hit another grounder to the left side of the infield which was again mishandled. Barhorst scored the Wildcats’ 10th run.

And on a night that leads were hard to protect, Minster pitcher Jenna Poeppelman then closed things out by facing the minimum over the final two innings, a line-out double play of the bat of Macy Henkle that was snared by Lindsey Albers, who then whipped the ball to first baseman Laney Hemmelgarn to complete the double play. Poeppelman then got Mackenzie Sipe to fly out of center field, where Barhorst squeezed the final out, allowing Minster to celebrate the MAC title.

It’s Minster’s first softball MAC title since 2014, a year where the conference crown was a springboard to a tournament run that only ended in the state championship game in Akron.

It looked early like Minster might roll to the win. Minster took a 2-0 lead in the first on a Jenna Poeppelman RBI groundout and a Parkway error after Richard had led off the bottom of the first with a double.

The lead grew to 3-0 in the second on a Barhorst RBI single that brought home Richard, who again set the table with a two-out single.

Parkway got on the board in the third with a Bailey Bates RBI single.

Minster’s lead swelled to 6-1 in the bottom of the third. Poeppelman and Alice Schmiesing drew walks to set the table for Hemmelgarn, who doubled to right field to bring home Emily Stubbs. Emma Schmiesing then delivered a two-run single to center field to make it 6-1.

Parkway battled back with three runs in the fourth.

Minster stemmed the tied momentarily with two runs in the fourth when Barhorst doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a Parkway error  and Stubbs scored on a Emma Schmiesing RBI single to right field for the 8-4 lead.

Parkway tied the game with four runs in the fifth when Temple and Miller singled to lead off the inning and a walk loaded the bases. A Minster error allowed a run to score and after Minster got two straight outs without a run crossing the plate, Bailey Strickler singled to center field to bring home a run.

Minster then showed Parkway slugger Haley Hawk the ultimate compliment by intentionally walking her with the bases loaded to make it 8-7. Minster was careful in pitching to Hawk, walking her twice in the game.

A pitch to the backstop then allowed the tying run to score and set up the dramatic final innings.

Poeppelman went the distance pitching for Minster, shaking off a night where five of the eight runs she allowed were unearned and seven walks threatened to be her undoing to finish off the game strong and deliver the title for Minster. She struck out six.

Minster got to Parkway’s Hawk for six runs — four of them earned — over the first 2 1-3 innings before Henkle gave Parkway 3 2-3 innings of strong relief. While she allowed four runs, none of them were earned.