Eastern York's historic season ends in state quarters
James Buchanan sophomore is playing softball for the first time in five years. Wochit by Shelly Stallsmith
Eastern York had a dream season on the softball field. One of the few hiccups came in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinals on Thursday, however, when the Golden Knights ran into a buzzsaw.
Eastern York fell to a tough and talented Tunkhannock team, 15-4, at Patriot Park in Allentown.
It was a special year for the Golden Knights, who finished with a 17-7 record and reached the state tournament for the first time in program history, according to head coach Brad Rohrbaugh. The Golden Knights reached the championship game of the District 3 Class 4A tournament and won their first-round state playoff game, 4-3, over Bonner Prendergast.
"Can't say enough about the girls, the coaching staff that I have," Rohrbaugh said. "None better."
Eastern York is also a young squad, with just two seniors — Kierstin Grove and Emily Mack — and no juniors.
The top-six hitters in Thursday's batting order featured Morgan Dobbeck (sophomore), Katie Lehman (sophomore), Maelynn Leber (freshman), Morgan Winter (sophomore), Kenny Buchmyer (sophomore) and Amber Forry (freshman).
"I'm so excited for next year. We went places, we're losing two seniors, and that's it," Winter said. "A lot of teams are losing maybe five seniors. We just want to build."
The Golden Knights' pitchers on Thursday — Leber and Analise Fenwick — are freshmen.
"I am so looking forward to the 2018 season that it could start tomorrow," Rohrbaugh said.
"They've got to have it in their gut now, being a part of this for the last three weeks with districts and then states. They gotta be hungry."
Tunkhannock, on the other hand, looked the part of a state title contender.
The Tigers simply smoked the ball all over the field Thursday, scoring three runs in the first inning before a nine-run outburst in the second.
Jena Simmons and Kendra Schultz had RBI doubles in the opening stanza. It continued in the second with RBI doubles from Hope Jones, Paige Mokychic and Sarah Traver. Hailey Farr followed up with a three-run home run to left-center field, as Tunkhannock went ahead 12-0.
The Tigers looked polished, and had a strong crowd in tow for support.
"You may be looking at the state champ right there," Rohrbaugh said as he motioned toward the Tigers' dugout.
"You saw the ball come off their bats. My God, they lit it up."
Eastern York received RBIs from Winter, Dobbeck and Bailee Merriel.
"I pulled them together, I think in the second inning, and said 'guys, we've got to do this for ourselves," Winter said. "We kind of went from there. We didn't really get down. And when we did get down, we picked each other up, which was really nice."
Tunkhannock advances to state semifinals to face Banger, which beat Upper Perkiomen on Thursday. The semifinals will be played Monday at a time and location to be determined.
"The team got really close, especially going the whole way through to this point," Grove said. "Taking that, and the memories that we have, this is going to last forever."