The YAIAA softball scene is loaded entering the 2016 season. Here's a look at our preseason rankings.
1. Delone Catholic: The Squirettes went 20-6 and reached the state quarterfinals last season, and they could be even better in 2016. Experience? Delone checks that box with six returning starters. Star power? Just three of the best players in the YAIAA in Shelbee Holcomb, Cassie Rickrode and Katie Laughman. The Squirettes have a great blend of pitching, offense and defense and should contend for the league title.
2. Littlestown: The Thunderbolts made big strides last season and might still be getting better, Littlestown brings back 11 varsity players from a team that won YAIAA Division III in 2015. Among that group, pitcher McKenzie Somers and infielder Kaitlin Yealy are two of the best in the YAIAA. Expect the Thunderbolts to contend for a division title once again.
3. Central York: The reigning league champs, the Panthers have some questions to answer after graduating six starters from last season's 20-3 squad. Still, head coach Shane Walker has to be thrilled to have two more seasons with junior catcher Briannah Dobson, who matured into one of the best players in the YAIAA in 2015. A year after boasting a senior-heavy lineup, the Panthers will rely on a number of underclassmen this season.
4. Dallastown: After finishing second in Division I behind Central York last season, Dallastown will look to contend with the Panthers for the top spot this year. While the Wildcats lost arguably their top player from last season, Haylee Anders, to graduation, they still have plenty of talent highlighted by Lyndee Anders and Jaelynn Harbold. Dallastown will also look to advance in the District 3 playoffs after getting eliminated in the first round last season.
5. Dover: The Eagles took a big step forward last season by posting their first winning record since 2004 (11-8) and finishing first in YAIAA Division II. While Dover enters this season with a target on its backs, the return of shortstop Natalie Cutright and outfielder Alyssa Lawton should help keep the Eagles near the top of the standings.
Mark the calendar
March 26: Delone Catholic at Bishop McDevitt, 11 a.m.
April 12: Littlestown at Kennard-Dale, 4:15 p.m.
April 14: Spring Grove at South Western, 4:15 p.m.
April 20: Dover at Susquehannock, 4:15 p.m.
April 20: Dallastown at Central York, 4:15 p.m.