Y-A softball: Central goes for three-peat
Despite changing head coaches and losing the league's player of the year last season, Central York remains a title contender. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
MAY 15 UPDATE: Northeastern beat Dover on Monday to win the YAIAA Division II title and secure the final spot in the YAIAA tournament.
Can anyone stop Central?
For the third straight season, that’s the storyline entering the York-Adams softball tournament. The Panthers were dominant once again this spring, losing just once and overcoming a strong batch of competitors to claim Division I. Now, the Panthers will turn their attention to claiming their third straight league title.
What will the rest of the division winners need to do to beat the Panthers? Here’s a breakdown on the tournament field as it stands right now. The semifinal matchups will take place on Tuesday with the league title game happening on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at New Oxford High School.
Central York (19-1) vs. Delone Catholic (13-4), Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Susquehannock
So much for this being a down year for Delone Catholic. Despite losing three of the best players in the league last season (Katie Laughman, Shelbee Holcomb, Cassie Rickrode) to graduation, the Squirettes won their sixth straight Division IV title. Junior pitcher Marlee Lackey has done a nice job filling the void in the pitching circle left by Rickrode, going 7-1 with a 1.61 ERA and 69 strikeouts. The younger Rickrode sister, sophomore Maggie, has also been a solid hurler when needed.
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But to beat the Panthers, you’ve got to hit Courtney Coppersmith, something not many teams have proven they can do this season. The Panthers junior hasn’t given up more than three runs in any game this season, and often dominated the competition in Division I. If Delone is going to generate any offense against her, young players like freshman Katie Ernst (.510 batting average, 17 RBIs) will have to rise to the occasion.
When the Squirettes faltered in the postseason last season, it was because they struggled to hit strong pitching. While the team’s offense has been solid this season, it hasn’t faced a pitcher like Coppersmith on a regular basis. Central also has an experienced offense supporting Coppersmith, making the Panthers the favorite in the matchup.
Kennard-Dale (14-2) vs Northeastern (11-9), Tuesday at 5 p.m. at New Oxford
The winner of Division II still hasn't been decided, leaving this matchup up in the air. Dover and Northeastern are both 6-7 in division play, and will play each other on Monday at Northeastern at 4:15 p.m. to determine the division champion. The Bobcats beat the Eagles, 8-1, when the two teams met earlier in the season on April 12.
More Rams softball:Kennard-Dale wearing Division III crown
Whichever team reaches the semifinals will certainly be the underdog though. Kennard-Dale has been one of the top teams in the league this season, overtaking Littlestown as the top team in Division III. The Rams have gotten solid pitching from Brittany Orwig and Alexis Hurley, but really rely on their offense to win. Underclassmen Lexi Kopko, Crystal Mullins and Jaedyn McKeon are all hitting well over .400 this season and the Rams have scored at least seven runs in all but two games.
Do the Eagles or Bobcats have enough pitching to slow down the Rams? Possibly. Dover's Taylor Lamparter has been one of the league's better pitchers the past few seasons, and Northeastern's Belle Bortner has been reliable this season as well. But they'll need to give especially-strong performances to top the Rams, who might have the best chance of stopping Central's bid for another title.