Central wins third straight YA title
Check out highlights from Central York's 8-1 league title win over Kennard-Dale at New Oxford High School on Wednesday. Central pitcher Courtney Coppersmith struck out 12 batters and walked none while giving up three hits.
Central York softball coach K.J. Livingston couldn't help but crack a slight smile.
The Panthers had just defeated Kennard-Dale, 8-1, on Wednesday to win their third straight YAIAA title at New Oxford High School. Despite keeping her players even-keeled and focused on bigger goals all spring as they rolled through the league schedule, the stoic first-year head coach said a little celebration was in order.
At least for a few days.
"We'll start looking at districts on Monday," Livingston said. "The girls will have their celebration on the bus and over the weekend is prom, and then it's all business on Monday. It's exciting for me because it's exciting for the girls. To three-peat, it is a great thing."
Central York's formula for victory on Wednesday was the same that it's been for every big game this season. Star pitcher Courtney Coppersmith dominated the opposition, and the Panthers got hits from seven players and timely defensive plays when needed. Leading 4-0 after three innings, Central gave up one run on three hits in the fourth but escaped with no further damage and cruised the rest of the way.
More Panthers:Central York softball maintains winning tradition
Like their head coach, the Panthers (21-1) showed minimal emotion after the final out with a few hugs and photos. But while the players have had their eyes set on an extended District 3 playoff run all season, they admitted that three county championships in a row is something to remember.
"It's amazing because it's my last year, and the bond we have makes it so much better," said senior catcher Briannah Dobson, who went 3-for-3 with four RBIs. "If it's a really close game, that's when Courtney and I have our bigger celebrations. It's an in-the-moment thing."
Added Coppersmith: "I'd say (this win) is up at the top, because there's always more pressure added every time you win it. Every team we play is going to want a piece of us a little more. Our seniors wanted it bad...it's always great to keep doing something we've had every year I've been here."
How has Central been so good in league play year after year? Besides the abundance of talent they have, the Panthers never stop pushing themselves. Coppersmith may have struck out 12 batters with no walks on Wednesday, but the junior was still disappointed for allowing the Rams to string together three hits in one inning.
With the District 3 playoffs starting next week, the Panthers are hoping that mindset pays off. Central York has lost in the first round the past two seasons, but is expected to be a No.2 seed in Class 6A and earn a bye this time around.
"They made nice hits off of pitches that were left up in the zone, so gotta give it to them," said Coppersmith, who has verbally committed to Division I University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "Last year there was a mental aspect of wanting to be done. All of us so far (this season), we want (to win in districts) and we want it bad."
For Kennard-Dale (15-3), Wednesday's league title game was a good experience after missing out on the league tournament the past two seasons. The Rams committed a number of errors and were never able to establish anything on offense outside of the fourth inning.
"It was exciting because all year we faced teams that were below our caliber, and it was something we needed to see," said sophomore Crystal Mullins, who hit a triple and scored the Rams only run. "We were like, 'We have nothing to lose, and they have everything to lose so if we win that awesome and if we lose we did our best.'"
More:District 3 brackets
Kennard-Dale head coach Greg Coulton declined to speak with GameTimePA.com after the game. The Rams will also play in the District 3 playoffs and are the No. 2 team in the Class 4A power rankings.
YAIAA tournament champions
2017: Central York
2016: Central York
2015: Central York
2013: Central York
2012: Central York
2011: New Oxford
2010: New Oxford