NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio – Archbishop Hoban senior Shawn Parnell stood on the mound in the sixth inning, having already given up two runs to Norton in the OHSAA Division II district final on Wednesday and now Norton had two runners on base with two outs and were threatening to cut into Hoban’s four-run lead.
The 5-foot-11 righty took a deep breath, went into his pitching motion and delivered a perfect pitch at the knees that froze Norton designated hitter Cooper Nipuelo for strike three to end the inning.
“A lot of times when the bigger situations come through, I tend not to get too overly excited or energetic,” Parnell said. “I tend to learn how to take a deep breath and just compose myself. I like the bigger moments.”
The Knights scored one more run in the bottom of the sixth and then Andrew Karhoff came into the game in the seventh and finished it out, as Hoban took home the district title with an 8-3 win.
If it seemed like Parnell was comfortable in the most pressure packed moments despite maybe not having his best stuff in the inning, it’s because he has plenty of experience with it. In his four years at Hoban, he played in three state championship games with the football team, winning state titles as a freshman and a junior. And last season he was one of the leaders on Hoban’s state championship winning baseball team.
“I have been in this situation a lot,” Parnell said. “I have had my fair share from baseball last year and especially the past four years with football.”
Parnell also used that experience in this district tournament at the plate. With the Knights tied 4-4 with Bay Village Bay in the semifinal on Monday, he hit a two-run inside-the-park home run to give Hoban a 6-4 lead in a game they eventually won 6-5.
And then in the first inning on Wednesday, Parnell stepped to the dish with two runners on base in a scoreless game. With Norton’s defense shifting to the left side, Parnell took a pitch to right field for a two-run single.
“Really my whole thought process was just to stay me," Parnell said. "I saw the opposing coach put a shift on, but I said that doesn’t matter. I’m just going to keep my normal swing and let the ball go where it goes.”
The success at the plate for Parnell during the districts was just an extension of what he has done over the past couple of weeks. In the last six games, the University of Cincinnati commit is hitting .556 with a double, a triple, two homers and 12 RBI. He has also drawn five walks and has scored 11 runs.
“He has been absolutely dominant for us the last five or six games,” Hoban head coach Andrew Bonnette said. “He has been on an amazing hitting tear.”
It is no accident that the senior has been so good. It comes for the sweat equity that Parnell puts in every day.
“He works hard, shows up and does what he is supposed to do,” Bonnette said. “Then he leaves it all on the field.”
Part of why Bonnette believes Parnell works so hard is that he has an intense competitive spirit that comes from growing up around a family of athletes.