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WILLOW STREET >> Nearly a year to the day after watching a potential district softball title slip through their fingers, the Delone Catholic Squirettes were back on the same field going against the same opponent that had broken their hearts once before. It would not happen a second time.

Behind a stellar performance by Cassie Rickrode, Delone Catholic defeated Susquenita, 4-1, at Garrett Field in Tuesday's district semifinal, avenging last season's 5-2 district title loss to the Blackhawks and clinching both a spot in the District 3 Class AA title game and the PIAA state playoffs.

"This was our time to come back, and I guess get revenge for our loss in the championship game," Rickrode said. "It feels good to come back and win after losing to them last year."

The right-hander pitched a complete game while giving up one unearned run on four hits, and went 3-for-4 at the plate, finishing a home run shy of the cycle. The junior also added an RBI and two runs scored and didn't seem phased by the district playoff stage in Willow Street.

"Whenever we know we're coming here, we get really excited because this is our third time here, and we had that close game last year," Rickrode said of playing at Garrett Field. "I think coming here reminds us of how much we want to win."

The Squirettes' lone mishap came in the top of the first inning when they allowed Susquenita leadoff hitter Quinn Fisher to reach base after a Shelbee Holcomb fielding error at shortstop — an uncharacteristic mistake by the junior, according to coach Don Smith. Fisher moved to third on a sac bunt, then scored on an RBI-bunt single by Kierra Stitt.

"Believe it or not, she (Holcomb) was a little nervous," Smith said of his junior shortstop. "She told me she was nervous because she wasn't hitting well. But she bounced back."

Holcomb led Delone's counter-attack in the bottom of the frame with a two-out single to left field. Rickrode followed that with an RBI-triple to deep left that sailed over the left fielder's head and seemed to catch her by surprise. Rickrode scored one batter later on a MiKayla McCleaf single, making it 2-1 in favor of the Squirettes.

"It feels good to come out and help your team after pitching," Rickrode said of her first-inning hit. "Having a lead early makes you feel really comfortable because you can use your defense more and trust them."

The two runs would be all Delone (17-4) needed. Rickrode retired 13 straight Blackhawks while striking out four batters between the first and fifth innings. Susquenita (17-6) didn't have a base hit past the infield until the sixth inning.

"She hit her spots, and basically everything was working for her," Smith said of Rickrode. "Her fastball, curveball and screwball were all on today. When she hits the corners, she's tough."

Delone added two insurance runs when Katie Laughman hit a two-out, RBI-double in the fourth and Lauryn King laid down an RBI-bunt single in the fifth.

With the win, Delone Catholic — Adams County's lone-remaining spring sports team — has a chance to win its first district softball title since 1999. The No. 1-seeded Squirettes will take on No. 2 Kutztown, which beat Brandywine Heights, 6-5, in Thursday's title game.

"Kutztown is always good, so it could be another tough, low-scoring game," Smith said

Delone Catholic 4, Susquenita 1

Susquenita1000000—142Delone200110x—4102

Sus, Kierra Stitt, Stephanie Klinger (5) and Kora Zeigler, DC, Cassie Rickrode and Lauryn King

SO-BB — Sus, Stitt 4-1, Klinger 3-1, DC, Rickrode 4-0; W — Rickrode; L — Stitt; 2B — DC 2 (Katie Laughman, Rickrode); 3B — DC, Rickrode.

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