PARCHMENT, MI – On an unusually hot April day, Parchment softball manager Greg Butler saw what his team could become.
Sure, it was over a month away from the playoffs, and but between the high level of competition and the 80-degree temperatures, that Saturday tournament at Richland Gull Lake had the feel of post-season softball, and its players got three. impressive victories against host Blue Devils, Dundee and Coopersville.
Against a powerful Gull Lake offense that included Michigan state signer Mandy Esman, Parchment senior Jessica Dreier launched one of her best games of the season, scoring 13 wins, one walk, and three points earned in the 8- 5 on the perpetually strong Blue Devils.
Looking back on his 12th season at the top of the Panthers’ schedule, Butler points to that day as a turning point in his team’s season; the day he realized the group had the potential to go where no Parchment softball team had gone before.
“I think it all started with the Gull Lake tournament,” he said. “We opened with Gull Lake and Jess threw the first game and our clubs came late,” she said. “Overall, if it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have been able to stay there because she just closed their roster for most of the game.”
One of six seniors on Parchment 2022’s roster, Dreier was the No. 1 on the team and the best hitter during his run for the first regional title in the program’s history.
An honorable mention for selecting all states in Division 3, Dreier led the 26-13 Panthers in batting average (.473), home runs (5) and RBI (50), eliminating just three times in 140 appearances at the flat, and she was particularly impressive at regional, combining to go 4 for 7 with two doubles and an RBI in upset wins over # 6 Buchanan and # 8 Watervliet.
In the circle, she went 11-9 with an average of 2.73 points earned, 1.47 WHIPs and 138 strikeouts versus 46 walks in 112 2/3 innings. In the 1-0 regional semi-final win over Buchanan, Dreier stepped up to the best game of his career, scoring seven, conceding just four wins and a walk in seven innings.
A four-year-old college player, Dreier entered Parchment’s softball program with a lot of promise, but it was her maturity that took her game to another senior level, Butler said.
“It has definitely come more mature. It’s funny how from senior year to senior year, you see a big leap in that, and she came out of it ready and ready to go, “she said of Dreier, who plans to focus on her education, not softball, at the Western Michigan University. “He knew exactly what his goal was and it also helped the team understand it.
“He’s had some crashes, which I think every pitcher does at some point, be it early, mid or late year, but he got it. She really fought hard in the gym for just one year. We had a lot of rain, very cold, and she resisted and understood it, and I was really proud of her.
A regional title was among Parchment’s biggest goals ahead of the season, and while a mid-season slump saw the Panthers lose five straight games in late May, they regained momentum at just the right time and Dreier’s balance has played an important role in that breakthrough.
“I think the most important thing with Jess was that she could handle the pressure of those bigger games better than I’ve ever seen her do before,” Butler said. “I think she came with the maturity she gained this year, and she really recovered and did a great job for us.”
“It helped keep the team moving forward and working harder,” Butler added. “She is very balanced and keeps calm. I think it resonates through the team, so we will miss her, for sure.
Dreier along with shortstop Jessica Brady, corner winger Samantha Jones, second baseman Barbara Thomas, midfielder Emma Hampton and left winger Jordyn VanderMeer will be hard to replace when Parchment looks to defend his Division 3 regional title , but the Panthers have several key players returning, most notably pitcher No. 2 sophomore Kaylee McKinney and freshman receiver Kat Dreier.
Will the Panthers be able to repeat their historic 2022 season next spring?
Only time will tell, but at least they know it’s a possibility thanks to the maturity and leadership of Dreier and the rest of his senior classmates.
“We have a lot of talent coming back, and it wasn’t just Jess. It took the whole team to get to where we went, “said Butler.” She’s very confident, which is great, and I love it, but she’s not cocky. She helps people and she did a great job for us. this year”.
2022 MHSSCA National High School Softball Team for Division 1
2022 MHSSCA National High School Softball Team for Division 2
2022 MHSSCA National High School Softball Team for Division 3
2022 MHSSCA National High School Softball Team for Division 4
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