DISTRICT 3 PLAYOFFS: Chambersburg baseball, Greencastle-Antrim softball head to semifinals
The journey has been similar for Chambersburg's baseball and Greencastle-Antrim's softball teams.
Neither team finished the regular season with a stellar record, as the Blue Devils sat at just 13-7, and the Trojans 12-8. But both teams have fought through a pair of District 3 playoff games and come from behind at least once, and now both are on their way to the district semifinals on Tuesday.
No. 10-seeded Chambersburg (14-8) heads to Northern York at 6:30 to face No. 6 Warwick (18-4) in Class AAAA baseball, while No. 6 Greencastle-Antrim (15-7) will travel to Messiah College at 4:30 to play No. 2-seeded Twin Valley (20-5) in Class AAA softball.
Victories would not only guarantee a trip to their respective championship games, but it would also ensure a spot in the PIAA Tournament. Only three teams advance in both classes.
"I wouldn't say I'm confident, but I know our team can compete with anybody," Greencastle coach Mark DeCarli said. "Going into Lampeter-Strasburg, we knew it was going to be battle because they had a good record (20-3), so this is the same thing. If we're on our game, we're going to be tough to beat. Our girls will come ready to play, and we're going to give them a game."
But while the Blue Devils are in a familiar spot – they won the district championship just two years ago – Chambersburg has not even qualified for the semifinals since it won the title in 2009. And the Trojans are definitely the underdogs as the lowest remaining seed.
"We seem to have a lot of confidence right now, especially after our big win versus Lower Dauphin," Trojan coach Bob Thomas said. "Overall, if we keep getting the kind of pitching we've been getting basically all year, hopefully we can scratch out a few runs. We've been playing overall better defensively, so I think we're ready to play."
Chambersburg will give the ball to Tristan Daywalt (5-0) to start Tuesday's game. The Warriors have three pitchers that have thrown right around 30 innings. Matt Cover leads the way with 32 2/3 innings of work, and he has the team's lowest ERA at 1.93. Junior Thomas Elliot is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in 22 2/3 frames.
Warwick is a strong hitting team with an overall batting average of .344; it is led by Grant Zimmerman, who is 32-65 and has scored 20 runs and has 16 RBIs.
Chambersburg also seems to be seeing the ball well.
"It's been better in the last 10 games or so, with one or two exceptions," Thomas said. "We've actually raised our team batting average about 50 points in the last 10 games."
Offense hasn't been the problem for the Blue Devils, either.
"We're always confident about our hitting," DeCarli said. "We always seem to hit the ball well. It's no secret that defense has been our Achilles' heel, but the last four games or so, our defense has been stepping it up, too."
Greencastle has not decided which pitcher will start in the semifinals. Ally Brown had complete-game victories in the first two games of districts, but Liz Ward has racked up an 8-1 record this season. Having Ward on the mound, though, would also mean not having her at third base.
"When Liz is there, it's shut down at third base," DeCarli said. "When she's not there, it's like third base by committee, so that's what we're trying to figure out now."
Once that is settled, though, DeCarli said he's expecting a good battle.
"From a scouting report, I've heard they have a pitcher (Devon Haddow) who's not overpowering but hits her spots well," he said. "She tries to make you chase the ball, and they also seem to have a solid defense. They're kind of like us; they have a couple of good hitters, and if they play well, they're tough to beat."