OXON HILL – Standing at 4-foot-11 inches tall, Katerin “Kat” Lizama is the shortest softball player on the field.
Her stature causes some opponents to under estimate the junior’s capabilities, but for Parkdale High School’s Head Softball Coach Richard Parker, her knowledge of the game and desire to be the best outweighs any height disadvantages she may have.
“Kat is one of those kids that I can put in any position if she practices it for three days,” Parker said. “I don’t care what position it is. If I need her, she can play it.”
The diminutive outfielder became the offensive sparkplug for Parkdale. Two strategic bunts brought in two runs while Lizama’s base running allowed her to steal bases twice. Together with starting pitcher Kayleigh Bourgeois’ save after throwing three-and-two-thirds innings, Parkdale soundly defeated Oxon Hill, 23-12, to continue its undefeated streak (10-0).
“They think just because I am small, I cannot be a power hitter,” Lizama said. “But in reality, small people can amount to as much as tall people can so (my height) isn’t anything that should be underestimated.”
Oxon Hill (5-3) looked to avenge a close 14-13 loss to Parkdale on March 25. Already down 7-0 in the bottom of the second inning, the Lady Clippers scored five runs to get back in the game. Senior Yazmine Diggs smashed a double past the Parkdale infield to score two runs. Two batters later, a sequence of back-to-back double play attempts failed, allowing two more Oxon Hill players to score.
Throughout the game, Parkdale’s base running placed it in easier scoring positioning as batters stole a combined 12 bases. After Lizama bunted early in the third inning, the junior broke free to steal third. The pickoff attempt by the Clippers was overthrown, giving her and teammate Hannah Sesay, who was on first base, time to run home, adding two runs to the Panthers’ growing score.
“We pretty much beat ourselves, to the point where they ran all over us.” Oxon Hill Head Coach Dexter Fleet said. “They did not have many hits but we made a lot of errors, throwing the ball around and not making plays “
Parkdale’s bats continued to attack as catcher Ethel Fonge hit a triple in the top of the third inning, racking up two more runs and going into double-digit runs for the 10th straight time this season.
Oxon Hill fought back in the third as catcher Destiny Richardson’s triple into right field at the top of the order put her in primary position to score. After a second player reached first base on a walk, senior outfielder Kennedy Rains hit a single past second base, bringing in both runners and reducing Parkdale’s advantage to 11-7.
With the Clippers closing in on Parkdale’s lead, the Panthers drove in six runs in the fourth inning to solidify the victory. With the bases loaded and two outs, outfielder Galaxy Okoro hit a triple.
Key rotations and substitutions by Parker helped Parkdale stay fresh and gave others an opportunity to shine. A hand injury forced Bourgeois to the bench after the third inning. However, right-hander Jamie Nace struggled in her short appearance, walking four out of her last six batters, but striking out two. Bourgeois came back out to get two final outs in the fifth for the victory.
“Everybody has an off-day,” Parker said about Nace’s performance, which he blamed on the back-to-back schedule. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t play her again in the third inning of the next game.”
Parkdale looks to continue its undefeated streak against Bladensburg on April 24. While not losing in the regular season would be a nice accomplishment, surpassing last year’s finish and competing for a state title is the top priority, Bourgeois said. Ranked No. 2 in the 4A South region bracket last season, Parkdale lost to Northwestern, 21-13, in the quarterfinals.
“Our goal is not just regionals,” Bourgeois said. “We want to go further than that. We want to go to states and we know we can with our coaches, with our bond, with our managers and all our supporters. We want to go as far as we can.”