Central York claims Division I title
Despite changing head coaches and losing the league's player of the year last season, Central York remains a title contender. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
Courtney Coppersmith didn't want to overthink it.
The Central York pitcher was one out away from leading her team to the Division I title with an extra-inning win over Spring Grove on Wednesday. At the plate was Rockets center fielder Bailey Rapson, who had sent the game to extras with a RBI single off Coppersmith three innings earlier. The tying run was standing at third base.
What pitch did Coppersmith want to throw?
The same one Rapson had hit before.
"Fastball, high and inside," Coppersmith said. "Just have faith and hope that you know what you're doing and just let it go."
Coppersmith knew what she was doing. Rapson would pop-out to Central catcher Briannah Dobson for the final out, giving the Panthers a dramatic 2-1 win in 10 innings at Spring Grove. Central York (19-1) claimed its third straight division title with the win and will go for its third straight league tournament championship next week.
More Central:Central York softball maintains winning tradition
It may not have been the most relaxing win, but head coach K.J. Livingston was glad the team experienced a scare with the postseason about to begin.
"This will prepare us for opponents in districts, yes," Livingston said. "This was one of the best (games) we've had."
While the game was a low-scoring affair throughout, it didn't always seem headed for a thrilling finish. Coppersmith had a perfect game through five innings, and while her teammates only provided her with one run, it didn't appear like she would need any more.
But after getting their first hit in the sixth, the Rockets (14-5) tied the game in the seventh when Julia Wivell walked and Rapson eventually singled her home. The center fielder would come up huge again in the top of the eighth, making a spectacular catch on a deep fly ball from Coppersmith that would have given Central the lead.
The Rockets momentum wouldn't last. With both teams allowed to start the 10th inning with a runner on second base, Central took advantage when Delaney Boylan hit a short fly ball to right field that resulted in an error and scored Laurel Lokhaiser. Spring Grove was able to advance its runner to third in the bottom of the inning, but three pop-outs to Dobson ended the game.
"It definitely hurts to lose this one when it comes down to winning the division, but it definitely was a good stepping stone for districts," Spring Grove coach Mark Hull said. "With a pitcher like that you're just trying to get the ball in play and Bailey did a great job."
She may not have gotten the perfect game, but Coppersmith still struck out 12 batters and gave up just two hits, one walk and one hit batter in 10 innings. Wivell was also impressive in throwing a complete game for the Rockets, striking out four batters and giving up five hits.
Winning the division might not be a new experience for Central, but the Panthers were still relieved after battling the Rockets for first place all season. Central will enter the postseason having not lost since April 3.
"I did get very nervous but you've got to take it pitch by pitch," said Dobson, who also had a RBI single in the third. "It's a great feeling. My senior year, last year with these girls, it's a great feeling to share this (division title) with them."