Back-to-back crowns for Milford softball team
MANCHESTER – While warming up for the top of the seventh, needing three outs to win a state title, Milford High School softball pitcher Delaney Parker was be-boppin to the music at the Southern New Hampshire University softball field.
What drama? What tension?
“That’s how I stay calm,” Parker said. “I stay loose and then I can power through.”
Parker powered through with the tying run at third in to the top of the seventh, getting the final two outs on a strikeout and fly out, with a walk in between, as Milford won its second straight Division II softball title, 3-2, over No. 6 Pembroke.
“It’s unbelievable,” Milford coach Jim Rines said. “She’s just so loose and that’s the way she’s always been. Magnificent.”
This wasn’t easy for the local No. 4 Spartans (17-3), who were outhit 9-7 and benefited from Pembroke leaving nine runners on. The non-local Spartans were paced by Brianna Connolly, that tying run at third, as she had three hits including a solo homer to lead off the game. But those nine stranded runners…
“We had nine hits against the No. 4 seed, defending champs,” Pembroke coach Ashley Gladu said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better game. In the end, one or two bounces go our way – it is what it is. That’s (Milford) a heck of a ball team, they deserve it.”
Pembroke grabbed the lead right away, 1-0, when Connolly led the game off by hitting the left field foul pole for a homer. “I said, ‘Just like Plymouth (in the quarterfinals),'” Rines said. “They hit the first ball out of Delaney’s hand for a homer. But hey, good things happen.”
Milford, though, got two in the first on a Stephanie Bishop RBI single off Pembroke starter Stephanie Berube and another run crossed the plate when Pembroke couldn’t convert a rundown play. With the bases loaded, Parker broke from first, and Pembroke froze as Jen Carson crossed the plate.
“That’s a planned play,” Rines said. “We work hard at it. And today we got lucky.”
“We know they do trick plays like that,” Gladu said. “But in the heat of the moment, they threw the ball on the ground.”
The locals added another in the second on Amanda Atkinson’s RBI double to lead 3-1. Who would have thought at that point that it would have been the game-winner?
“Nothing bothers her,” Rines said. “Two hits today, she did a great job.”
Pembroke closed to 3-2 in the third on Olivia Langevin’s RBI single after Connolly led off the frame with a double.
Pembroke had a golden opportunity to tie it or go ahead in the fourth with the bases loaded and one out, but Connolly lined into a double play to Jenna DeAngelis at short. Pembroke came at Milford hard.
“They gave us a game,” Parker said, “but we gave them a game back, too.”