Parkwood High Softball Rolls Into State Finals

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Next stop Greensboro.

Parkwood High School put on a dominating performance in the Class 2A West Regional Softball Finals last weekend as the Rebels swept Madison to advance to the Class 2A Softball Championship Series beginning June 2 in Greensboro. The games will be played at UNC-Greensboro Softball Stadium.

Parkwood will face undefeated and two-time defending state champion South Granville in the best two-out-of-three series. Game 1 is at 7:30 p.m. Friday with Game 2 slated for 2 p.m. June 3. If needed, a winner-take-all Game 3 will be at either 8 p.m. or 5 p.m. Saturday. If the Class 4A series only goes to two games then the third game for the Class 2 A title will be at 5 p.m.

Prior to this season, Parkwood had never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.

“It was tough, and we faced a very good Madison pitcher,” said first-year Parkwood coach Tim Speakman. “But at the same time, we needed to have a better approach at the plate as we left quite a few runners on base and in scoring position.”

South Granville (26-0) defeated Eastern Randolph 9-1 and 10-0 in the East Regional Finals.

“We had some mishaps at the beginning of the season, but that was youth and inexperience,” said South Granville coach Jackie Day. “Our leadership had a lot to do with turning it around. We have four freshman starters and they respond to what they are told. If you hang out with and play with good athletes, you’re gonna be a good athlete.”

Parkwood moved to the state championship series by sweeping Madison. Parkwood won 6-3 at Madison on May 25 and the Rebels punched their ticket to the finals with a 1-0 victory at home May 26.

Caroline Ruth had another strong pitching performance in the 1-0 victory as the junior struck out 12 while giving up just four hits and two walks.

Ruth is now 22-2 on the season and she has a 1.00 ERA. Ruth has 226 strikeouts in 146.1 innings of work this season. She has walked just 33 batters and opponents have scored just 33 runs in 24 games.

Ruth is also a force at the plate as she is batting .384 with 21 RBI and and four home runs.

In six postseason games this season, Parkwood has dished up four shutouts and has given up just four runs.

As a team, Parkwood is batting .384 on the season and the Rebels have 24 home runs and a on-base percentage of .452. Sophomore Sarah Harkins leads the way at the plate with a .480 average while junior Mary Pierce Barnes is hitting .475. Barnes has 23 RBIs on the season while Harkins has 20 RBI and three home runs.

Freshman Chole Hardy leads the Rebels with 25 RBI and she has four home runs on the year. Senior Bailey Morton leads the team in home runs with eight and she is batting .339 with 17 RBIs.

“Sarah Harkins is really helping us out quite a bit,” Speakman said. “Mary Pierce Barnes has been outstanding for us at the plate. We are hitting the ball well as a team and that is something we have stressed ever since I have come here. You have to hit the ball in this game. We work hard at it.”

South Granville is batting .481 as a team this season and the Vikings have hit 23 home runs. Senior Abbi Colclough leads the Vikings with a .518 batting average while freshman Ally Goss is batting .506.

Senior Miranda Barker has thrown every pitch for the Vikings this season and she is 26-0 with a 0.88 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .119 against Barker and she has 209 strikeouts on the season.

“South Granville is legitimate,” Speakman said. “Their pitcher is going to be tough, but if we do our job we will be able to put something together. We have done a pretty good job against good pitching. We have to have a better mental approach when we go up to bat.”

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Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at