Dallastown's Madisyn Johnson said she didn’t think about what the pivotal play meant. She just knew she had to get to the scorching line drive hit by YAIAA Division I rival Lorna Colberg of Central York on Monday.
“I just saw the ball, ran and reacted,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think, I jumped and trusted my instincts. I was just going hard, putting all I had out there for the ball.”
The senior center fielder's leaping catch saved a grand slam, helping the Wildcats get out of the top of the sixth inning tied.
In the bottom of the frame, Johnson, who goes by "MJ," was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for the eventual game-winning RBI in Dallastown’s 4-3 victory.
“I got hit right there,” Johnson said, pointing to the red mark on her fore arm. “That’s alright, it’s all for the run. They are always great competition. It’s really nerve-wracking to go out and play them, but we all put everything we have out there and it’s a great game either way.”
“The crazy part is," said Wildcats coach Howie Merriman, "as good as these two teams are, the first game they won with a passed ball and the second game was decided by a hit batter. It doesn’t take away a lot great plays that were made throughout the game.”
Camryn Rothrock led off the Central sixth with a hard single. The sophomore stole second, went to third on a groundout and avoided the tag at home on Kara Lordan’s RBI squeeze bunt, tying the game.
Erin Cabry followed with a bunt single and Cheyenne Miller singled to load the bases. But Johnson killed the threat.
“You’ve got to make special plays to win and she made a special play,” Merriman said. “If she doesn’t make that catch, everybody scores and we are not in the situation we are now. That was the biggest play of the game.”
Dallastown, which improved to 11-2 in the league and 13-2 overall, remained a game behind the Panthers in the division standings. It was the first loss of the season, league or otherwise for Central (12-1, 17-1).
The Panthers threatened in the seventh when Courtney Coppersmith walked, and one out later, Rothrock reached on an error. Karly Fink bunted both into scoring position, but Lordan grounded out to Wildcats shortstop Maggie Noel, who made a nice play to end the game.
Also a part of the Wildcats’ three-run third, Johnson reached base on a fielder’s choice and came around to score when No. 9 hitter Krista Flemmens launched a long home run. Dallastown added an unearned run in the inning to go up 3-0, although Merriman knew the Panthers would come back.
“We knew going in it was going to come down to the final inning, perhaps the final play, which it did,” Merriman said. “When we jumped up 3-0 we knew that’s not a lot against a good team. We didn’t think much of it.”
With one out in the fifth, Cabry and Miller notched back-to-back triples. Colberg followed with a walk and Miller stole home when Colberg was caught stealing second, cutting the gap to 3-2.
Central coach Shane Walker has seen these battles with Dallastown many times.
“It’s a good rival game,” he said. “These are fun. That’s why you play the game. We are not walking out of here with our heads down. We were down 3-0, came back, battled back.”