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Still kickin': Central York reclaims YAIAA crown

Central York senior Rachel Butler was the winning pitcher while Courtney Coppersmith got the save

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Central York's players weren't exactly sure what to do.

Panthers first baseman Rachel Butler had just stepped on the bag ahead of Susquehannock batter Mallory Lebo, seemingly giving Central York the third out in the seventh inning and their second straight league title. But as the Panthers began to celebrate, the umpires deliberated whether or not Lebo was safe.

"It was a little awkward," Butler said. "But I thought I touched the base before she did, so I figured we would get the out."

The umpires would confirm Lebo was out moments later, allowing the Panthers to congratulate each other on their 3-1 win over Susquehannock in the YAIAA title game. It was Central's second win against the Warriors this season, having beaten them, 7-2, on April 25. 

Having won their second-straight YAIAA championship and fourth in the past five years, the Panthers seemed happy but kept the celebrating at a minimum as they accepted their first-place medals after the game. Head coach Shane Walker downplayed talk of a dynasty, and credited the program's success to his players' dedication.

"Every team is different so it's hard to say dynasty," Walker said. "We have a lot of kids who buy in to softball and play year round, and we reap that reward."

The Panthers had only allowed 26 runs in 21 games entering Tuesday's title game at New Oxford, and as usual used a formula of strong pitching and defense to beat the Warriors. Butler started the game and allowed just one run on six hits in four innings before turning the game over to Courtney Coppersmith, who kept Susquehannock off the board while recording the final nine outs.

But if it wasn't for two fantastic defensive plays made by Central, the outcome of the game might have been different. With the game tied 1-1 at the beginning of the third inning, Panthers' sophomore shortstop Erin Cabry had to leap to snag a line drive off the bat of Susquehannock leadoff hitter Mallory Lebo. Warriors coach Jeff Deardorff said the play would have resulted in "either a triple or a home run" if the catch hadn't been made.

The next inning, the Warriors had the bases loaded with one out when Central York converted a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. Butler fielded a short grounder and tossed the ball to catcher Briannah Dobson at home plate who then threw the batter out at first.

"Lebo is a threat every time she gets on, you assume if she gets on she's going to score," Walker said. "That was a great catch by Erin. The double play was huge, that I think set the tone for the game."

The Panthers didn't have their best day offensively, but RBIs from Butler (sac fly), Coppersmith (ground out) and Kara Lordan (single) gave them more runs than they needed.

Although disappointed, Deardorff said his team played well but just didn't make as many plays as Central York. He credited Butler and Coppersmith for shutting down the Warriors' offense.

"They have really good pitchers, I don't know where they get them," Deardorff said. "They're all left-handed too, there must be something in the water at Central's school district. I'm thinking of getting a couple gallons of it and taking it down to us."

Both teams will now focus on the District 3 playoffs. Central York (21-1) is the fifth seed in Class AAAA while Susquehannock (16-4) is the fourth seed in Class AAA.

Central York 3, Susquehannock 1
Central York_101_100_x_—_3_7_0

Sus, Maddy Staub. CY, Rachel Butler, Courtney Coppersmith (4).
SO-BB — Sus, Staub 1-3. CY, Butler 2-1, Coppersmith 3-0; W — Butler; L — Staub; 2B — CY, Erin Cabry.