ANNVILLE - Tay Parker stepped outside the Warrior Run dugout at Lebanon Valley College and became encircled by members of the media. The junior took questions from all sides and politely answered each one while wearing a pair of moccasins.
As relaxed as the soft-spoken pitcher appeared recalling the highlights from Thursday's game, she remains more comfortable between the lines.
Few things seem to rattle her.
Neither illegal pitches nor baserunners. Neither striking out in her first at-bat nor watching her team retired in order in the first three innings.
Her and her teammates seem to play loose in any situation and they'll get another chance on Monday in the PIAA semifinals after Warrior Run defeated Christopher Dock, 2-1, in the state tournament Class AA quarterfinals, yesterday.
"We got on the bus at 7:45 and it was a two-hour ride down here and we got here at 10," said Watson. "We ate some lunch and they were pretty loose and we just had to go play Warrior Run softball."
The Defenders (23-2) will play Nanticoke on Monday at 4 p.m .at Bloomsburg University. The District 2 champions defeated Kutztown, 8-4, to advance.
Warrior Run softball includes patience at the plate and the Defenders' disclipine paid off in the bottom of the fourth inning when Parker broke open a scoreless tie with a double off the center fielder's glove that scored Devin Nicholas.
"I honestly thought it was going to be over," said Nicholas. "I was expected to just keep running and then as soon as she caught it, I was like awe, and then she dropped it and I was like OK I'm going."
"I knew there was a runner on first, so I knew I needed to get a good hit to score her or get a good hit to put her in scoring position for Jackie (Clemens)," said Parker, "but as soon as that ball came off the bat, I knew it was going that far."
Parker, who finished with a one-hitter, and Christopher Dock's Keli Krause each retired the first nine hitters they faced and Krause extended her streak to 10 consecutive before allowing four consecutive hits to the Defenders in the fourth inning.
Nicholas singled for the game's first hit and baserunner and Parker stepped up and drilled a pitch to center field. Warrior Run fans and Nicholas had hopes of the ball leaving the field, but it bounced off the glove of the Pioneers' center fielder and rolled to the fence to the left of the 220 foot sign in dead center. Nicholas reached second base and watched the ball's flight to see if she should return to first base or turn to her left and pick up Watson, the team's third-base coach. Once it hit the green grass, Nicholas turned into a thoroughbred and picked up her feet as fast as Watson was circling his arm to wave her home. Nicholas reached home plate standing and the Defenders had a 1-0 lead.
"We had two baserunner bloopers (on Monday) with her, ironically, which makes it real funny," said Watson. "She didn't tag up on a ball at second and I kind of got after her during the game. On the bus ride home we joked about it and I told her I was going to make her watch the Kentucky Derby from last year and watch how the horses run out of the gate and she kind of laughed about it."
With Parker on second, Clemens continued her clutch hitting with a bouncing single up the middle. Christopher Dock (18-5), which reached the state semifinals last year after beating Central Columbia, knocked the ball down, but Parker had a good read on the play and easily scored for a 2-0 lead.
"She's our best baserunner by far," said Watson. "She's got a good mindset of the game and she got a good read on it and she picked me up right away and we were sending her.
"We were taking our chances. When I came into the dugout here, I said I was going to get her thrown out at home if we had to because we had to make something happen. We were only going to hold them off for so long."
Parker retired her 13th consecutive hitter to start the fifth inning, but lost her chance at perfection when she hit No. 5 hitter Olivia Bradford with a pitch. Bradford was turned around to bunt when she was hit by the pitch and the home plate and first-base umpires had a discussion to see if she offered at the pitch before staying with the initial call.
A fielder's choice and a walk put runners at first and second with two outs and Emma Lewis delivered the Pioneers first hit, an RBI single to center field. Parker avoided further trouble with a strikeout.
Parker, who was familiar with some of Christopher Dock's lineup after playing travel ball in the Philly area, received error-free defense again and the fast-working hurler struck out seven. She retired the final seven hitters she faced and the top four hitters in the Pioneers' lineup were 0 for 12.
"Their one, three and four hitters are as good as we've seen all year," said Watson. "They're college-bound and they're tough."
The top four hitters in Warrior Run's lineup went 5 for 11 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a sacrifice.
Christopher Dock000 010 0 - 1 1 0
Warrior Run000 200 x - 2 6 0
Keli Krause and Aly Shilling. Tay Parker and Lynn Vermilya. W - Parker. L - Krause.
Top Christopher Dock hitter: Emm Lewis 1-2. Top Warrior Run hitters: Devin Nicholas 2-3, run; Parker 2-3, 2B, RBI, run; Jackie Clemens 1-2, RBI.
Records: Warrior Run 23-2, Mifflinburg 18-5. Next: Warrior Run vs. TBA, Monday.