Central to face K-D for league 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
Her team had just blown out Delone Catholic to reach the YAIAA title game, but Central York softball coach K.J. Livingston had little interest in finding out the Panthers' opponent in Wednesday's championship contest.
For Livingston, the Panthers have been facing the same opponent all season.
"We play against ourselves, been saying it all season," Livingston said. "Doesn't matter who the opponent is. Doesn't matter to me."
While the Panthers are certainly the favorite to win their third straight league title on Wednesday, they will have to beat a tough opponent other than themselves. Central York will face Kennard-Dale on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at New Oxford High School. The Rams won a hard-fought 4-3 contest over Northeastern the semifinals at New Oxford on Tuesday while Central beat Delone, 14-0, in five innings at Susquehannock.
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The Rams are well aware of how dominant the Panthers (20-1) have been this season, but that doesn't mean they're intimidated. Having won the Division III title over a pair of worthy opponents in Littlestown and Eastern York, Kennard-Dale (15-2) remains confident.
"We know that they're going to be a good team. But they're No. 1 in their division and we are too so bring it on," Kennard-Dale outfielder Lexi Kopko said.
Wednesday's matchup should provide an interesting battle between pitching and hitting. The Rams are a team driven by offense, having scored nine or more runs 11 times this season. But Central York has the league's best pitcher in Courtney Coppersmith, who has not lost a game all season and has yet to give up more than three runs in a game.
If Kennard-Dale's top hitters like Kopko (.421 batting average), Jaedyn McKeon (.569), and Crystal Mullins (.483) can scratch out a few runs, the Rams should be able to compete. Of course, that's easier said than done. In Tuesday's win over the Squirettes, Coppersmith faced 17 batters and struck out 13 while giving up one hit and one walk.
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"If we hit and start right away and get on top, we can beat them," Kennard-Dale's Marguerite DeFranco said. "Our team has gone so far this year and improved so much than we did last year."
Added Coppersmith: "We don't know a lot about Kennard-Dale except that they look like they're going to be pretty good. We've got to come with our A-game. It's a lot of pressure because you want to come out and do your best every single game."
While Coppersmith has gotten most of the attention on Central this season, the Panthers have plenty of strong players around her. Erin Cabry is a pesky leadoff hitter and slick-fielding shortstop, Briannah Dobson is a rock behind the plate who's hitting .400 this season, and Brianna Smith is a solid pitcher, first baseman and run producer. Bottom line, Kennard-Dale will have to play its best game to win.
With multiple freshmen and sophomores in the starting lineup, the Rams also can't match the Panthers in terms of experience. Still, both teams are motivated to win and have talent in enough areas to give fans an entertaining league title game.
"We have a path that we're on and we're hitting all of our goals," Livingston said. "It's up to them how far done the path they go. They're the ones playing."