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Softball rankings: Preseason favorite at the top

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There's been a few surprises in York-Adams softball this season, but plenty still remains the same.

The two teams that met in the league title game last spring are back at the top of their respective divisions. At the same time, a couple of clubs have rapidly improved from a year ago and are contending for the playoffs. With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, there is still plenty to be decided.

Here's where our power rankings stand right now.

5. Delone Catholic 

We may have gotten ahead of ourselves when we wrote that Fairfield was in position to overtake the Squirettes in Division IV. Despite losing three of the league's best players in Cassie Rickrode, Shelbee Holcomb and Katie Laughman to graduation, Delone is back in first place with 8-2 record, 8-1 in division play. That includes a 5-1 win over the Green Knights on April 10.

Junior pitcher Marlee Lackey stepped in for Rickrode in the pitcher's circle, while young players such as freshman second basemen Lauren Little, freshman catcher Katie Ernst and sophomore first baseman Maggie Rockrode have taken on bigger roles.

More Delone: Delone softball reloads with young talent

The question for Squirettes is how far they can go in the postseason. Last season they lost to Susquehannock in the YAIAA tournament quarterfinals and came one win short of making the state playoffs.

4. Dallastown

No, the Wildcats record isn't great. But while Dallastown is just 6-6 overall, its 5-2 mark in Division I earns a spot here. The Wildcats have lost to both Central York and Spring Grove, but beaten competitive teams in New Oxford and Dover.

Like Delone, the Wildcats lost their top players from last season in Jaelyn Harbold and Maggie Noll. But with a number of returning starters including sophomore pitcher Kelsie Merriman and senior Lyndee Anders, Dallastown remains experienced.

Losses to strong non-league teams like Lampeter Strasburg and Lower Dauphin have the Wildcats fighting to make the Class 6A playoffs, where they're currently ranked 11th in the 10-team bracket. But with eight games left on the schedule, Dallastown has plenty of time to make up ground.

3. Kennard-Dale

After finishing behind Littlestown in Division III the past two seasons, the Rams are back in the top spot in the standings. Kennard-Dale is currently 7-1, undefeated in league play and ranked second in Class 4A. Its only loss so far was a 10-9 decision to Pequea Valley on March 30.

Brittany Orwig and Alexis Hurley have proven to be a solid pitching duo, with the Rams holding teams to two runs or fewer five times. Crystal Mullins and Lexie Kopko lead a powerful offense.

While the Rams have already beaten their division competition in Littlestown and Eastern York, they play both teams again this season. Their regular season finale against Susquehannock on May 11 will also be interesting.

2. Spring Grove

One of the league's most improved teams, Spring Grove is 9-2 overall and 8-1 in Division I after finishing 8-12 last season. The Rockets are currently ranked fourth in Class 5A and are tied with Central York for first place in the division.

More Spring Grove: Improved offense has Spring Grove in contention

The Rockets have gotten solid pitching from Julia Wivell and Hailey Kessinger, but also have a powerful offense with multiple players capable of hitting home runs. As a team, Spring Grove is hitting just over .320.

The Rockets lost 5-3 to Central York on April 12, but have a chance to claim the division title when the two teams play again on May 5.

1. Central York 

When Central was shocked by Red Lion, 5-4, on April 3, it looked like the Panthers might not be the top team in the area anymore. It didn't take long for the defending league champs to prove that wrong.

More Central York: Central York sets its sights on states

Central has been on a tear since then, winning seven in a row to improve its record to 10-1, 7-1 in Division I. Junior pitcher Courtney Coppersmith has been on a roll, the offense has scored more than 10 runs multiple times and the Panthers look like the favorites in both Division I and the league.

While the Panthers have a tough three-game stretch to end the regular season against New Oxford, Spring Grove and Dallastown, they're the clear No. 1 choice until another team proves it can beat them.

Honorable mention

Susquehannock: The Warriors remain at the top of Division II, but haven't been as consistent as last season. With a record of 5-5 (4-3 in division play), Susquehannock will have to fend off Northeastern and Dover to make it back to the YAIAA playoffs.

Eastern York: After finishing a game under .500 last season, the Golden Knights are 6-4 (4-1) and on pace to make the Class 4A playoffs. They earned an impressive 9-1 win over defending Division III champion Littlestown on April 3.

Littlestown: With most of the players from their back-to-back division title teams having graduated, the Bolts have understandably taken a step back this season. But at 6-5 (5-3), they remain in the district playoff hunt. They also barely lost to division-leading Kennard-Dale, 8-7, on April 10 and have a rematch with the Rams on May 3.

New Oxford: At 6-3 overall, the Colonials have already matched last season's win total. Junior pitcher Alanna Molz has been outstanding, but New Oxford will need to hit more to contend with Spring Grove, Central York and Dallastown in Division I.