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Shawn Parnell not afraid of big moments for Archbishop Hoban

Shawn Parnell has experience winning championships for Archbishop Hoban in baseball and football and shines in the biggest moments
Hoban Norton baseball Shawn Parnell Ryan Isley

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.

“He has grown up around sports and he has been a competitor his whole entire life and I think days like today, it shows,” Bonnette said. “He has done this for a long time. The competition, he lives in it, he thrives in it and for him, this is just another day. He is going to move on to the next game and be ready to keep competing.”

That thirst to keep competing is one that has rolled over from his days of playing football for the Knights.

“That football experience is what drives me to stay so composed now during the baseball season,” Parnell said. “I use that experience to make sure I take each and every game one game at a time. That’s what really helps me focus and get me through these games.”

The other factor that keeps pushing Parnell as this season nears an end is the disappointment he felt in Canton this past December, as Hoban lost to Cincinnati Winton Woods in the Division II football state championship game. It’s that reminder that has kept him from thinking about how each game could be his last donning the blue and gold on the field for Hoban.

“My biggest thought is 'who’s next,’” Parnell said. “I’m not thinking too much about taking the sentimental aspect of each game. I am really hungry from losing state from football season, so I am trying to get back there and get another ring for baseball this season.”

Parnell pitches and plays second base, shortstop and outfield for Hoban and will be asked to do the same thing at the next level for the Bearcats. If you ask Parnell which of the positions he prefers, it doesn’t seem like a difficult question for him to answer.

“I prefer shortstop,” Parnell said. “Shortstop gives me a little more freedom and a little more range. I get to extend my arm a little bit, so shortstop is definitely my preference.”

But when you ask Parnell what sport he prefers between baseball and football, the answer isn’t quite as simple.

“Baseball,” Parnell says at first.

When asked why baseball, he laughs.

“Depends on the season,” Parnell said with a chuckle. “If you ask me during football season, I will tell you football. You ask me now, I will tell you baseball.”

No matter the sport, one thing is for sure – Parnell is going to have fun playing it and is going to be ready to play when he is needed the most.