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YAIAA softball preview: Central still looking strong

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The question in York-Adams softball this season is simple: Can anyone top Central York?

The Panthers have been the class of the YAIAA the past two seasons, and while they lose a couple key players from last season's 21-2 team and have a new head coach in K.J. Livingston, they should be in the mix again this season. Junior shortstop Erin Cabry is back after a stellar sophomore season, as is pitcher/first baseman Courtney Coopersmith, third baseman Cameryn Rothrock and catcher Briannah Dobson.

What teams can challenge them in Division I? The first that comes to mind is Dallastown. The Wildcats are coming off an appearance in the PIAA playoffs, and they also bring back several of last year's top contributors, including Kelsie Merriman, Lyndee Anders and Krista Flemmings.

South Western (8-11) and Spring Grove (8-12) both got close to the .500 mark last season, but they will have to make significant strides to compete with Central and Dallastown. New Oxford is coming off a 6-14 season but has a young team, while Red Lion will try to get back in the win column after going 0-18 last season. Keep an eye on Lions sophomore second baseman Kaitlyn Collins, who was a second-team all-state player in 2016.

Division II

Susquehannock established itself as one of the best teams in York-Adams in 2016, going 15-5 and reaching the league title game. But like a lot of last season’s top teams, the Warriors lost their top players in pitcher Maddy Staub, center fielder Mallory Lebo and catcher Lily Yoakum.

But it's too early to write off the Warriors. After all, they're not the only squad in Division II going through the rebuilding process. Dover finished second last season at 12-7, but the Eagles graduated NCAA Division I players Natalie Cutright (James Madison) and Alyssa Lawton (George Mason), while also bringing in a new leader in former coach Terry Choate.

Still, arguably the biggest key to softball success is having a top pitcher, and the Eagles might have the division's best in Taylor Lamparter. The junior went 11-5 last season and struck out 121 batters in 112 innings.

Gettysburg will try to post a second-straight winning season after going 11-9 last year, while West York (7-13) and Northeastern (2-17) have more room for improvement. The Bulldogs have experience of their side with eight returning starters.

Division III

Littlestown is coming off back-to-back division titles, but the Thunderbolts lose star pitcher McKenzie Somers and shortstop Kaitlin Yealy. While pitching remains a question mark, junior outfielder Amanda Dyson and new shortstop Jill Gauthier should keep the Bolts' lineup potent. Former New Oxford coach and athletic director Ken Shafer is the Bolts' fourth head coach in as many seasons.

The two teams that could challenge Littlestown are Kennard-Dale and York Suburban. The Trojans bring back four starters from last season's 11-7 squad, while the Rams will need to fill some voids after reaching the District 3 quarterfinals.

Division IV

Is this the year Delone Catholic gets overtaken? It might be, and Fairfield could be the team to do it.

Yes, the Green Knights should be contenders this season. After missing the district playoffs by one game with a very young team last season, Fairfield brings back seven starters. Pitcher Courtney Harbaugh, catcher Gena Eiker and infielder/outfielder Ryleigh Bolyard were all first-team coaches' all-star selections in 2016.

Delone, on the other hand, needs to replace star pitcher Cassie Rickrode, shortstop Shelbee Holcomb and second baseman/third baseman Katie Laughman. If the Squirettes are going to win their sixth straight division title, they'll need first baseman Maggie Rickrode and outfielder Lauryn King to take larger roles.

Players to Watch

  • Erin Cambry, Central York
  • Briannah Dobson, Central York
  • Lyndee Anders, Dallastown
  • Julia Wivell, Spring Grove
  • Kaitlyn Chell, South Western
  • Kaitlyn Collins, Red Lion
  • Taylor Lamparter, Dover
  • Amanda Dyson, Littlestown
  • Gena Eiker, Fairfield
  • Maggie Rickrode, Delone Catholic