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The Spring Grove softball team is 7-2 after beating West York, 5-0, on Tuesday. The Rockets went just 8-12 last season. Matt Allibone

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Spring Grove pitcher Hailey Kessinger was in control Tuesday afternoon as she pitched the Rockets to a 6-1 victory over Garden Spot in the opening round of the District 3 Class 5A softball tournament.

The win advances the host Rockets to the quarterfinals, where they will play at Lower Dauphin, a 5-0 winner over New Oxford, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Kessinger went the distance on 84 pitches, 64 of them strikes. She allowed one run and four hits while fanning six and not yielding a walk.

"I was throwing a lot of pitches low and outside, trying to get them to hit the ball on the ground," Kessinger said.

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Of the 21 outs she recorded, 10 came via ground balls.

"Hailey really hit her spots well today," Spring Grove catcher Caroline Cornman said. "Her curve ball and rise ball were really working well."

Spring Grove (16-5) took a 1-0 lead in the first when Julia Wivell roped a triple to right-center that plated Briana DiCandeloro, who had left off the inning with a flare single just inside the right-field line.

The Rockets broke the game open in the third when Cornman keyed a four-run uprising with a two-run single and Hannah Gartrell contributed an RBI single. Garden Spot committed a trio of errors in the frame to help the rally.

A couple more Spartan miscues in the sixth allowed the hosts to tally another run in the sixth.

Garden Spot (11-9) avoided the shutout in the seventh when Abbey Fricke's ground out scored Sidney Nichols, who had doubled to start the inning.

Kessinger allowed two hits in the first and one in the fourth and reached the sixth inning on only 51 pitches. She didn't face a two-ball count until the fifth.

"Hailey doesn't get rattled out there, at all," Spring Grove coach Mark Hull said. "They didn't get many hits off of her, but when they did, she buckled down when she needed to."

 

 

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