Parchment softball all-stater closes out career in historic fashion, raises bar for future teams

PARCHMENT, MI — On an unusually warm April day, Parchment softball coach Greg Butler saw what his team could become.

Sure, the playoffs were over a month away, and but between the high level of competition and 80-degree temperatures, this Saturday tournament at Richland Gull Lake had the feel of postseason softball, and its players picked up three impressive wins against the host. Blue Devils, Dundee and Coopersville.

Against a powerful Gull Lake offense that included Michigan State signee Mandy Esman, Parchment senior Jessica Dreier threw one of her best games of the season, striking out 13 and allowing seven hits, a walk and three earned runs in the 8-5 victory over the eternally strong Blue Devils.

Looking back on his 12th season at the top of the Panthers program, 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 started with Gull Lake, and Jess pitched that first game, and our sticks came in late,” he said. “Overall, if it wasn’t for her, we couldn’t have stayed there because she really shut down their roster for most of the game.”

One of six seniors on Parchment’s 2022 roster, Dreier was the No. 1 pitcher and top hitter on the team in its run to the first regional title in program history.

Honorable mention in the Division 3 all-state selection, Dreier led the Panthers 26-13 in batting average (.473), homers (5) and RBIs (50), while striking out just three times in 140 plate appearances, and she was particularly impressive at regionals, combining to go 4-for-7 with two doubles and an RBI in upset wins over No. 6 Buchanan and No. 8 Watervliet.

— Parchment’s Jessica Dreier turns to her third base coach during a Division 3 softball quarterfinal game against Grandville’s Calvin Christian’s on Tuesday, June 14 at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Patrick Nothaft | MLive.comPatrick Nothaft | MLive.com

In the circle, she went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 138 strikeouts on 46 walks in 112 2/3 innings. In the 1-0 regional semifinal victory over Buchanan, Dreier stepped up the best game of his career, striking out seven, while allowing just four hits and one 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 level as a senior, Butler said.

“She definitely arrived more mature. It’s funny how from junior to senior you see a big leap forward, and she’s come out ready and ready to go,” he said of Dreier, who plans to focus on his education, not softball, at Western Michigan University. . “She knew exactly what her goal was and also helped the team see it.

“She had some meltdowns, which I think every pitcher does at some point, whether it’s early, middle, or late in the year, but she got it. She really struggled in the gym just because of the year. We had a lot of rain, a lot of cold, and she fought hard and figured it out, and I was really proud of her.

A regional title was among Parchment’s biggest pre-season goals, and although a mid-season slump saw the Panthers lose five straight games in late May, they regained momentum at the right time, and the Dreier’s assurance played a big role in this turnaround.

“I think the biggest thing with Jess was the fact that she could handle the pressure of those big games better than I’ve ever seen her do before,” Butler said. “I think that came with the maturity she’s gained this year, and she’s really stepped up and done a great job for us.”

Grandville Calvin Christian takes on Parchment in the softball quarterfinals.

— Parchment head coach Greg Butler chats with his team during a Division 3 softball quarterfinal game against Grandville’s Calvin Christian’s on Tuesday, June 14 at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan . Patrick Nothaft | MLive.comPatrick Nothaft | MLive.com

“She helped push the team forward and work harder,” Butler added. “She is very level-headed and keeps her cool. I think that resonates in the team, so she will be missed for sure.

Dreier along with shortstop Jessica Brady, cornerman Samantha Jones, second baseman Barbara Thomas, center fielder Emma Hampton and left fielder Jordyn VanderMeer will be tough to replace when Parchment looks to defend his regional title of Division 3, but the Panthers have several key players back, most notably sophomore No. 2 pitcher Kaylee McKinney and freshman catcher Kat Dreier.

Will the Panthers be able to repeat their historic 2022 season next spring?

Only time will tell, but they at least 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 where we went,” Butler said. “She’s very confident, which is great, and I love that, but she’s not pushy. She helps people and has done a great job for us this year.

2022 MHSSCA High School Softball Team for Division 1

2022 MHSSCA High School Softball Team for Division 2

2022 MHSSCA High School Softball Team for Division 3

2022 MHSSCA High School Softball Team for Division 4

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