A good night’s sleep proved to be as important to Parkway’s softball team as a solid scouting report.
Playing on full rest, the Lady Panthers used a four-run first inning to set the tone for a 7-1 Class 5A first-round playoff victory against Central on Monday.
Earlier this season, Parkway dropped a 2-0 loss to Central at the Sulphur tournament on a cold March morning.
“The earlier game, we had played the late game the night before, and the only hotel I could find in Sulphur was in Jennings, 45 minutes away,” Parkway coach Neil May said. “We’re going on about four hours sleep, playing the early game Saturday morning on wet ground. We just didn’t play our game.”
The Lady Panthers (20-8) certainly played their game Monday afternoon.
After Central (18-12) scratched out a run against Cheyenne Rogers in the first inning, Parkway responded with a four-run first inning, highlighted by a two-run Brittany Bryant single.
Parkway chased Central starter Brittany McCarty after just seven batters. McCarty also was the starter in Central’s March win against Parkway.
“We knew the first pitch was going to be a strike outside,” said Rogers, who had two of Parkway’s 13 hits. “If it was the first pitch, go ahead and swing at it. If she threw a ball, wait until she throws a strike, and swing at it.”
Parkway, which next plays the winner of today’s Walker-Comeaux game, added three runs in the second inning, two of which came on a Haydn Parker double.
Parker led Parkway’s offense, going 3-for-4 with three doubles and three RBIs.
Handed a three- then a six-run lead, Rogers (16-5) stifled the visiting Lady Wildcats, showing the ability to dance out of trouble.
“My first inning is always my worst inning,” Rogers said. “If there’s a time to capitalize, that’s it. As long as we can shut them down after that, I’ll be happy.”
With the way Parkway swung the bats, Rogers didn’t have much reason to worry.
“Against us the first time, I think they had 11 pop flies,” Central coach Michelle Efferson said. “(Monday) they just hit the ball and hit it hard at us. Every one of them, one through nine, hit the ball hard.”
The Lady Panthers big day at the plate, and Rogers’ escape acts, made for a bit of history that ended with May being blindsided by a water-cooler bath.
“It feels awesome,” Rogers said. “It’s the first playoff game on our new field. We’ve only lost one game at home. Now, we can christen our field with a (playoff) win.”