Delone Catholic captures first district softball title since 1999
As each Squirette base runner crossed home plate on Thursday afternoon, it became more and more evident that an end to the Delone's 16-year softball district title drought was imminent and that the Squirettes, who came so close to bringing home the gold medals last season, would not be denied again.
Delone took full advantage of five Kutztown errors, plating eight unearned runs on its way to a 10-3 win over the second-seeded Cougars at Lebanon Valley College. For the first time since 1999, Delone softball was bringing a district title home to McSherrystown.
"Winning this was definitely our main goal after last year," said Squirettes junior Katie Laughman, who was less than a year old the last time Delone softball won a district title. "We wanted to come out even stronger and come out on top this time to get the title. And we've got it now."
Nerves seemed to play a role early on for both sides. The Cougars jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before Delone even stepped to the plate after Courtney Stump drove in a run with an RBI-double to deep left field, then scored on a passed ball a hitter later.
The Squirettes regrouped in the dugout before coming out to hit in the bottom of the first.
"We were a little nervous after getting down 2-0, but we came back into the dugout and told each other, 'We're going to hit, we're going to win the inning, and we'll go from there,'" Laughman said. "Then once we got up 5-2, we were hyped up."
Delone scored five runs – all unearned – in the bottom of the frame thanks to three Kutztown errors. Shayna Rider and Laughman both reached on errors to lead off the inning, then scored on an RBI-single by Shelbee Holcomb and an RBI-double by Cassie Rickrode. Holcomb scored two batters later on a throwing error and Rickrode scored on a Karley Coleman RBI groundout.
"That's the first time in a long (when) we got something in the first inning," Delone Catholic coach Don Smith said. "Normally, we wait until the fifth or sixth, but today we did it early."
Delone reached on an error, then walked and singled to load the bases with two outs in the third before freshman Marlee Lackey laced a deep drive to center field, scoring all three runs.
"It felt smooth," Lackey said of her swing on the three-run double. "I loved it."
After retiring eight of 10 Cougars from the first through third innings, Rickrode ran into trouble in the fourth. Kutztown scored on an error with two outs, cutting the lead to 8-3. Stump – the Cougars' top hitter – came to the plate with the bases loaded, but Rickrode got her to line out, ending the inning before more damage could be done.
"Her dad (Rickrode) was calling the pitches and he told me they wanted to call drops and changeups on her (Stump)," Smith said. "They did and they got her. That was a key play of the game."
In the bottom of the fourth, Laughman drove in Delone's first earned run of the game, giving the Squirettes a comfortable 9-3 lead. Rickrode added one more in the sixth with an RBI-infield single, then shut the door on the Cougars in the seventh, inciting a frenzied Delone celebration at the pitcher's circle.
As the Squirettes celebrated together and posed for pictures with their gold medals, the magnitude of the win wasn't lost on the team's veterans who were part of the team that lost in the district championship last year.
"It's so big for us," Laughman said of the title. "We're all so happy to make history and this was our main goal. We're just ecstatic. It's going to be a fun bus ride home."
Delone Catholic 10, Kutztown 3
K, Jenna Grim, Courtney Stump (4) and Emily Ebling, DC, Cassie Rickrode and Lauryn King
SO-BB — K, Grim 3-1, Stump 0-0, DC, Rickrode 4-1; W — Rickrode; L — Grim; 2B — K, Stump, DC 3 (Rickrode, Marlee Lackey, Shayna Rider);