Parkville Thunder 18-Under coach Kevin Klimko would like to forget about his team’s performance last year in the United States Specialty Sports Association World Series.
“We didn’t have a very good showing, went 2-4 and finished in the high 30s, lows 40s,” Klimko said of the 55 teams competing. “It was unacceptable.”
That finish convinced Klimko to shake up the club for this summer, bringing in pitchers Miranda Lobus, of Perry Hall High, and Carly Delawder, a Catholic High student from Rosedale.
“We made some personnel changes,” Klimko said. “We have a much more cohesive group as far as chemistry. We had lost team chemistry last year and we decided to make some moves based on that.”
The moves have worked. The Thunder are 22-6-1 and head into the USSSA World Series in Salisbury on July 29-Aug. 4 loaded with confidence.
It’s the most important tournament of year for Parkville and features teams from Canada and 12 different U.S. states.
The Thunder already claimed the Amateur Softball Association State championship in June after capturing the Charm City Challenge in Laurel two weeks earlier.
Parkville also placed third out 57 squads June 30 in the Firecracker College Showcase in Chambersburg, Pa.
“I really honestly believe we can get to the end of the tournament and to the final four,” Klimko said of the USSSA World Series. “We feel good about the way we are playing. We have been consistent throughout the year. We are just trying to keep the same attitude.”
Winning close games helps.
“We have done very well in one-run games,” he said. “In ASA states, three out of the four games we won were by one run.”
Lobus (9-3) and Delawder (11-3) are winning their share of games.
Lobus led Perry Hall High to a 16-4 record this past spring, posting a 1.40 ERA and yielding 76 hits while striking out 76 in 92 innings.
“These two pitchers really keep us in every ballgame,” Klimko said. “Their ERAs are both below three (runs per game).”
Delawder has 61 strikeouts in 87 innings and often splits time with Lobus to keep teams off balance.
“They have totally different styles,” Klimko said. “Miranda is control pitcher and really hits her sports. Carly is a strikeout pitcher. She keeps the ball up in the zone, whereas Miranda keeps the ball down in the zone.”
Having Beth Madore (Parkville High), Giselle Alvarez (Eastern Tech) and Klimko’s daughter, Keri (Eastern Tech), patrolling the outfield with Shana Alford is a big plus.
Outfielder/catcher Brooke Samios-Uy, who will join the team for the USSSA World Series, is another major factor.
“We have three of the fastest outfielders you will ever see,” Klimko said of his starters. “When we go to tournaments, opposing coaches comment about our outfielders.”
Klimko also raves about the defense of shortstop Savannah Zittle and third baseman Miranda Merkley.
Catchers Jordan Pross and Maya Smith, first basemen Kaitlyn Jackson and Laura Thacker (Eastern Tech) and infielders Lindsay Meyers (Eastern Tech) and Brooke Wall and outfielder Payton Pross also have contributed to Parkville’s success.
Another Parkville squad, the 14-Under, will also take a shot at a title in the USSSA World Series in Salisbury, starting July 24.
Shortstop Allison Meyers, catcher Erin Muir, outfielder Megan Harper, first baseman Angel O’Dell and pitchers Morgan Fulton and Sarah Heagy have led the Thunder to a 20-11 record.
“We are excited to see how far we can go,” said Parkville 14-U coach Jack Meyers, who also coaches the Eastern Tech varsity. “We have two pitchers. Sometimes, that’s a concern. Once you get deep into these 50, 60-team tournaments, it would be nice to have a third pitcher.”