Over the course of a season, every game matters, even those late-season trap games against a struggling opponent. Sometimes it can be easy for a team to look past that opponent with the lopsided record.
That was certainly a possibility for McNary softball on Friday when they faced a struggling North Salem squad that they had already faced and defeated twice this season by a combined score of 37-0. And at home, McNary (15-5, 8-1) defeated North Salem (0-17, 0-8) in three innings.
For some, Friday’s 15-0 win could be written off as one they should have been expected to win and take nothing from it.
But Lady Celts head coach Kelly Parsell sees a game like this as an opportunity. An opportunity to get better. An opportunity to focus on fundamentals. An opportunity to keep their heads where they need to be with two weeks remaining before the postseason.
“My college coach’s mantra is ‘how you do anything is how you do everything,’ and these opportunities are sometimes the biggest tells of are we there yet?” Parsell said. “Are we that kind of program where we’re going to come into a game that’s just a different kind of level than some other league games? Are we going to play our game or are we going to slack off?”
And play their game they did.
The Lady Celts scored 10 runs in the first inning, while Kamryn Long threw three no-hit innings, only allowing two North Salem batters to reach base.
Parsell was all compliments for Long, beyond just her performance on the field.
“She’s got a really competitive, strong mindset, but is very playful, respectful and comes to the field with just joy for everyone around her,” Parsell said. “She’s always thinking about other people and seeing how she can help and bringing in some light jokes and that kind of focus and presence in these games is really, really important and invaluable for some other people to see and kind of reflect on.”
This was only the second appearance in the circle for the junior. She picked up a two-inning save against North Salem back on April 25.
And with one more year as a Lady Celt, Long wouldn’t mind having the ball in her hand at times next season, and Parsell could always use another arm in the circle.
But there’s no looking to next season yet.
“I just want to soak everything up and just take what I have and just do my best and just learn from it,” Long said.
Friday wasn’t just an opportunity for Long to pitch.
It was an opportunity for Parsell to get some other players out in the field and in the lineup to get valuable innings heading into the final stretch of the season and into the postseason.
“It’s hard to feel comfortable on the field when you don’t get time to feel comfortable on the field and it’s really, really difficult to be a pinch hitter or go out on defense when you don’t have a ton of opportunities to do that,” Parsell said. “So being able to get people out there is huge for that reason. And we’d love to do it, be able to do it more, but sometimes we just need our best to kick in a little bit more than some other games.”
North Salem is young this season, with only three seniors and two juniors on the roster. But even with their inexperience and struggles, Parsell had high praise for them, and saw things her squad could learn from North Salem.
“Every single one of those players are ready to go, every pitch,” Parsell said. “They’re listening to their coach and they’re making adjustments and they’re being super respectful out there and they’re in it. They seem to be having fun and just, it’s a pure love for the game. And I think it’s a really good reminder for some players who get caught up in stats or in playing time of this is the game that we love and it provides us women with a lot of opportunities to be involved with our community and I really enjoy these games.”