Team effort puts Spring Grove in district title game
The Spring Grove softball team picked up five runs in the fourth inning against Lampeter-Strasburg in a 10-3 District 3 semifinal win. The Rockets finished with 12 hits from eight different players. Matt Allibone
Spring Grove head coach Mark Hull likes to say the Rockets have relied on nine players to win all season.
That was certainly true on Tuesday.
Taking on Lampeter-Strasburg in the District 3 Class 5A semifinals on Tuesday at Messiah College, the Rockets (18-5) outplayed the Pioneers in every aspect in a 10-3 win. Spring Grove picked up 12 hits from eight players, got terrific defense from its outfield and solid pitching from Julia Wivell and Hailey Kessinger.
The Rockets will play Cedar Cliff in the 5A title game on Thursday. The location has yet to be determined. It's the first time Spring Grove has reached the District 3 championship game and the state playoffs during Hull's nine years as coach.
More softball: District roundup: Eastern softball walks off a winner
"It's a great feeling and these kids build on that and thrive on that and they know they con do this," Hull said. "This is not an individual sport, it's a team sport. When one girl is struggling somebody else picks it up. And it's constantly somebody new."
The new contributor on Tuesday was freshman Chloe Sullivan, who has spent the past few games as the Rockets designated player after spending most of the season on JV. Sullivan ripped an RBI double in the fourth inning that started a five-run burst and increased Spring Grove's lead to 7-0.
The Rockets got contributions throughout the lineup during that rally. Following Sullivan's double, leadoff hitter Bri Dicandeloro and No. 2 hitter Bryn Sporer hit a double and triple, respectively, to produce three more runs. Dicandeloro had a huge overall game, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
"All of us were really pumped up and had a lot of energy," Dicandeloro said. "I don't think any of us were expecting to get this far, but we're ready."
After being shut down by Wivell in the first three innings, the Pioneers picked up a run off her in the fourth and two runs off Kessinger in the fifth. The Rockets responded by adding three runs in the top of the seventh for extra insurance.
While Spring Grove's pitchers gave up eight hits and produced only one strikeout, they didn't walk anyone and forced the Pioneers to put the ball in play. Sporer was particularly strong in center field for the Rockets, making a number of catches on deep balls.
"Bryn is so fast, sometimes she overruns it," Hull said with a laugh. "Defensively we've been solid all year round. Things like that are really huge when you're in one-run games, two-run games, which we've played many times in York County."
Spring Grove has won its three district playoff games by a combined score of 20-4. Dicandeloro said the Rockets entered the playoffs motivated after a 2-1 extra-inning loss to Central York for the YAIAA Division I title on May 10.
"We realized that we could keep up with the best, so that made us realize that we could go really far this year," she said.