Parkwood High Softball Team Completes Dream Season

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Parkwood High didn’t blink when the Rebels had their backs to the wall at the Class 2A Stte Championship series last weekend in Greensboro.

South Granville High pushed its record to 26-0 when the Vikings blanked Parkwood June 1 in Game 1 of the best-of-3 championship series. That win meant the Vikings would need  one more victory Saturday to complete an undefeated season and hand the team its third-straight Class 2A State Championship.

But Parkwood had other ideas.

The Rebels forced a deciding Game 3 with a thrilling 3-2 victory in Game 2 and Parkwood then claimed the school’s first state championship in softball with a convincing 7-2 victory. Parkwood ends the season at 27-3 and the Rebels defeated two previously undefeated teams en route to the championship.

After that loss in Game 1, Parkwood coach Tim Speakman assembled the players for a meeting back at the team’s hotel and the first year Rebels coach had a simple message for the Rebels.

“We had to get back to some of the basics,” Speakman said. “What I mean by that, we had to get back to a better mental approach on our at-bats. We had opportunities in the first game with runners on base and we didn’t have good mental approaches to our at-bats.

“I just basically told them at that meeting that we had to do a better job mentally in our approach to our at-bats. In this sport, you have to hit the ball.”

And Parkwood hit the ball when it counted most.

Allie Griffin provided the key hit in Game 2 when her RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning gave the Rebels a 3-2 lead which would eventually hold up to even the series at 1-1.

“What a big, big time hit,” Speakman said. “And it came with two outs. When you come up in situations like that and you are mentally prepared for that situation then the pressure comes off you.”

Parkwood pitcher Caroline Ruth then closed the door in the top of the seventh as the junior opened the inning with a strikeout before getting the next two Vikings batters to fly out.

Ruth picked up the pitching victory for Parkwood after giving up six hits while striking out four. The two South Granville runs in Game 2 was the Vikings lowest output of the season.

Parkwood then claimed the state championship in the winner take all third game as Ruth turned in another dominating pitching performance while the Rebels backed her up with a nine-hit attack.

Parkwood broke a 1-1 tie with five runs in the top of the fifth inning for a 6-1 lead. The Vikings cut the lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth but the Rebels added a run in the top of the seventh for the five-run win.

Bailey Morton delivered the big blow for Parkwood in the fifth inning when the senior ripped a three-run double for a 6-1 lead. Amber Parker and Ruth also collected RBIs in the fifth inning. Parker was credited with an RBI when she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Ruth drew a bases loaded walk for a 3-1 lead.

All five Parkwood runs in the fifth inning scored with two outs.

“Friday night, we watched third strikes,” Speakman said. “We came up there Saturday in both games and fouled balls off continually. We wanted to make their pitcher work and our game plan worked. We wanted to make her throw more pitches and I think we wore her down. That fifth inning, we blew it open.”

Morton and junior Mary Pierce Barnes each finished with three hits in Game 3. Parkwood also took advantage of four South Granville errors in the game. Morton, who has signed with Appalachian State, was named the championship series Most Valuable Player.

Ruth scattered seven hits and she struck out four with just one walk. South Granville recorded back-to-back two-out singles in the bottom of the seventh but Ruth ended the game when South Granville pitcher Miranda Barker popped out to third baseman Amber Briggs.

Parkwood finished the season ranked No. 1 in North Carolina regardless of classification by

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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