By RYAN VANDERSLOOT
EMIGSVILLE — It is usually a good thing for a team to be highly seeded when the District 3 softball championship brackets are officially released.
That hasn’t been the case recently for the girls from Central York, however.
Despite a run of York-Adams League success, the Panthers have not exactly found any cupcakes when it comes to district play. A season ago they were ousted in the quarterfinals. Then on Tuesday afternoon, the Panthers squared off against a Chambersburg squad that is probably a bit better than its No. 10 seeding would indicate.
As the No. 7 team in the 16-team field, the Panthers got off to a rough start. After allowing a run early in the first inning, the home team was a mere strike away from ending the threat with minimal damage. But a two-run double by Chambersburg’s Leah Hunt proved to ultimately be a deciding blow, and Central (20-3) saw its season come to a close after a 5-1 setback in a first-round clash.
Overall, it was a very tough day for York-Adams teams on Tuesday in district play. They finished the day 1-7, and in those seven losses, the area teams scored just seven runs. Littlestown was the only local winner.
Chambersburg (14-7) will face Daniel Boone, a 1-0 winner over Dallastown, in the quarterfinals Thursday.
“We allowed the one to (score), but we were able to work our way to two outs,” Panthers coach Shane Walker said. “We were trying to get out of the inning, but they came through there.”
Tough luck has seemed to follow the Panthers throughout district play in recent years. Despite being favored in terms of seeding, the draw in District 3 is no picnic.
“Whenever you get to this point and you start playing in districts, everybody’s good,” Walker said. “These teams don’t make mistakes. When you look at the power rankings, one through 11 could, I think, beat anybody on any given day. All of those teams are solid.”
The start of the contest was probably the mirror opposite of what senior pitcher Kayla Resh was expecting when she took the mound. A single to center was followed by an infield single that ultimately ended with the Trojans finding themselves with runners on second and third after a couple of late throws. Lily Nolan followed with a sharp single to center to scored a run. Nolan advanced to second on the throw home. After back-to-back strikeouts, Resh was just a strike away from getting out of the jam. But she left a pitch over the plate that Hunt crushed it into the gap for a two-run double.
The Chambersburg lead grew by a run in the second after a throwing error at first with two outs allowed Maggie Myers, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning, to score.
Central was able to get a bit of a rally going in the third off Trojan starter Laken Meyers. Meyers, who induced 10 groundball outs during seven innings, gave up a single, followed by an error, to begin the frame. After getting the next two batters, she walked Kayla Caruso to load the bases for clean-up hitter Kelsey Wisner. A wild pitch allowed a run to score to make it 4-1, but Wisner was only able to bounce out weakly to Meyers for the final out.
“We just couldn’t come through,” Walker said. “And they made some solid plays.”
The Panthers would only get more than one runner on base one more time in the contest, that coming in the fourth. Back-to-back singles by Briannah Dobson and Kelsey Shifflett started a rally, but Dobson was caught trying to advance to third on Shifflett’s infield single.
That set the stage for Meyers, who retired the final 10 batters she faced to earn the victory. The right-hander struck out only three, but allowed just four hits and one unearned run.
“Their pitcher threw exceptionally well today,” Walker said. “I actually think that both pitchers had a very good game. I think we gave up some uncharacteristic outs that, when put in a game like this, you just really can’t afford.”
After Shifflett was retired to end the game on a pop-up, the Panthers solemnly gathered on the middle of the diamond for one last post-game chat as a group. It’s a bunch that includes eight seniors. Only Rachel Butler and Dobson will return as starters from this year’s club next spring.
“I’ve been around a lot of these girls since they were 10 years old,” said Walker, who got a bit choked up when talking about his team. “They’ve shown great leadership. They’ve been very consistent throughout the year and they really bought into all of the stuff that we were doing. And they led the way. There’s no other dugout that I would rather be in.”
While seeing those eight players graduate next month will be tough for Walker, he’s pretty confident that next year’s club won’t be lacking.
“Our JV team went undefeated this year,” he said. “I think they had 297 runs and gave up 19 all season. So there’s a really strong group there. And we have a freshman pitcher that’s exceptionally good coming up next year. I think we’re at a point with the program where it’s kind of a re-loading more than a re-building. And I have every expectation that if those kids can show half the maturity that our seniors did this year that we’ll be good.”
Littlestown 10, Big Spring 5: At Littlestown, the home team used an eight-run second inning to grab the District 3-AAA first-round win. Kaitlin Yealy (three hits, homer, three RBIs, two runs), Jill Gauthier (three hits, two RBIs, one run), Lindsay Snyder (three hits, one RBI, one run), Mackenzie Somers (three hits, triple) and Amanda Dyson (two hits, double, two RBIs, three runs) led Littlestown’s 15-hit attack. Somers also went the distance to get the win on the mound, striking out five. The No. 7 seed Lady Bolts improved to 18-4. No. 10 seed Big Spring finished 14-7. Littlestown will face second-seeded Twin Valley (19-5) in the quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at York College. Twin Valley beat No. 15 seed Susquehannock on Tuesday, 15-4, in five innings.
Greencastle 5, Dover 1: At Greencastle, the 11th-seeded Eagles fell victim to the sixth-seeded Blue Devils in District 3-AAA action. Dover finished 11-8 on the season, while Greencastle now stands at 14-7. Abigail Lower had two of Dover’s five hits, along with the team’s only RBI.
Bishop McDevitt 12, Kennard-Dale 0: At Fawn Grove, the eighth-seeded Rams suffered a six-inning mercy-rule loss to the ninth-seeded Crusaders in a District 3-AAA battle. K-D’s season ends at 15-4, while McDevitt improves to 15-6. K-D was outhit 14-4, and no one for the Rams had more than one hit.
Conrad Weiser 4, Spring Grove 0: At Conrad Weiser, the 13th-seeded Rockets hung tough with the fourth-seeded Scouts in a District 3-AAA game, but a lack of offensive production proved pivotal. Spring Grove’s season ended at 10-11, while Conrad Weiser moved to 19-3. Conrad Weiser plated all of its runs in the third inning. Both teams had four hits. Julia Wivell pitched a complete game for Spring Grove, striking out five. Kasey Bentley had two doubles for Spring Grove.
Upper Dauphin 2, Fairfield 1: At Upper Dauphin, the Green Knights suffered a tight loss in a District 3-AA meeting. The ninth-seeded Knights finished at 10-10. Eighth-seeded Upper Dauphin moved to 12-9. Lexi Weaver pitched a three-hitter for Upper Dauphin, striking out 11. She didn’t allow any earned runs. Courtney Harbaugh pitched a complete-game four-hitter for Fairfield, striking out three. Gena Eiker and Megan Whalen tripled for Fairfield.
Daniel Boone 1, Dallastown 0: At Daniel Boone, the 15th-seeded Wildcats gave the second-seeded Blazers a tough battle in a District 3-AAAA contest, but ultimately fell. Dallastown finished 13-6, while Daniel Boone improved to 20-2. Dallastown was outhit 9-1. Bekah Slattery fanned 13 for Daniel Boone. Jaelynn Harbold pitched a complete game for Dallastown, striking out four and walking one.
Twin Valley 15, Susquehannock 4: At Twin Valley, the 15th-seeded Warriors dropped a five-inning mercy-rule decision to second-seeded Twin Valley. Susquehannock finished at 10-8. Twin Valley improved to 19-5.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.