DALLASTOWN -- Jeff Deardorff readily admits that his Dallastown softball team set some pretty high goals coming into this season.
The seeds for success were sowed a season ago, when Dallastown knocked off perennial York-Adams League heavyweight Central York two out of three times.
The final meeting between the Wildcats and the Panthers ended in an epic 9-8 victory in the District 3 playoffs.
Now the Dallastown girls are back and ready to take a step toward a bigger goal -- a district title.
There was no better way to get started on that goal then a Monday afternoon home battle against a Central team that entered the contest with a perfect 4-0 mark in Division I.
Thanks to pitcher Kelsey Collins and shortstop Amanda Jones, the Wildcats find themselves squarely on track to achieve their goals. Collins fanned eight and held the visitors to just six hits, while Jones smacked three hits, including a two-run home run in the first inning, to carry Dallastown to a 6-0 victory.
The Wildcats improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the division, while Central fell to 4-2 overall and 4-1 in the division.
"Central is a big rival," Jones said. "(They) are one of our hardest games of the season."
Jones made life a lot easier on Collins after driving in the first two runs of the game with two outs in the first. After Kayla Merriman rocked a double, Jones followed that by ripping a wind-aided line drive well over the right-fielder's head, rounding the bases easily to put her team ahead for good.
Jones actually passed up a pitch in her wheelhouse earlier in the at-bat and took advantage of a second chance.
"The first pitch looked pretty good but I didn't swing at it," she said. "So I just told myself that if there was another good pitch that I was going to swing at it. I didn't get all of it."
That turned out to be more than enough for Collins, a junior who was in control for most of the contest. The right-hander skated away from traffic until back-to-back singles in the seventh. Even then Collins remained out of trouble after a strikeout, a forceout and a come-backer that ended the contest.
"It's really nice to get runs in the first inning just to set the tone," Collins said. "It helps me relax more."
Deardorff undoubtedly felt better after seeing Jones cross the plate, too.
"That was big," he said. "That just turned the momentum our way."
Once the home team got that momentum there was little the Panthers could do.
With Jones squarely in the middle of what is becoming a potent Dallastown lineup, the Wildcats took advantage of every opportunity afforded to them. The 3-4-5 hitters in Deardorff's lineup -- Merriman, Jones and Jenna Eckenrode -- collected six of the team's eight hits while scoring four runs.
"The girls have been hitting the ball the last three or four games now," Deardorff said. "I don't know how many hits we had today, but that's pretty darn good off of their pitcher."
Jones ignited what became a three-run fourth inning with a leadoff single. Eckenrode followed that with a single that moved Jones to third. Eckenrode took second uncontested a pitch later and Jones scored when she beat out a fielder's choice grounder by Haylee Anders.
Collins' sister, Kayla, then gave her sibling even more breathing room with a double to left that scored two before she was thrown out trying to stretch her hit into a triple.
That was probably the only thing that didn't go right for Deardorff's team Monday. If things continue like this, there's no telling where the Wildcats may wind up come playoff time.
Deardorff, for one, isn't underestimating his team one bit.
"I'm really not surprised," he said. "We were all expecting to have a very good team this year and the girls all set high expectations for this season. They set some pretty lofty goals and they're working very hard to try to achieve them."
Central's Darrian Schade was the lone Panther with multiple hits. The first baseman collected a pair of singles in the defeat.
Taylor Rohrbaugh pitched a complete game for Central, striking out four and walking none.
DELONE CATHOLIC 16, YORK TECH 8: At McSherrystown, Delone won the meeting of the top two teams in York-Adams Division IV. Delone improved to 6-0 overall and in the division. Tech fell to 4-2 overall and in the division. Rachel Heuisler pitched a complete-game nine-hitter to get the win. Tayler Schussler (four hits, five runs, five RBIs), Deanna Laughman (three hits, five runs), Shayna Rider (three hits, four runs), Casara McCleaf (four hits) and Ariel Price (three hits, four RBIs) paced Delone's offense. Dani Aikins led Tech with three hits and three RBIs.
SPRING GROVE 8, DOVER 1: The visiting Rockets scored three runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth to remain atop York-Adams Division I with a 4-1 record (6-2 overall). Spring Grove's starting pitcher, Erica Heck (5-1), took a no-hitter into the seventh but walked a batter and gave up an RBI single to Alexis Schoemaker. Heck struck out 16, walked two and surrendered the one hit. At the plate, the Rockets were led by Jess Patchel (2-for-4) and Jenna Hall (2-for-3, three runs).
KENNARD DALE 13, WEST YORK 3: The visiting Rams collected 13 runs on 16 hits and committed no errors to improve to 3-2 in York-Adams Division II (3-2 overall). Pitcher Desi Joines picked up the win by striking out 14 in a complete-game effort. Joines gave up a two-run triple to Steph Harrison in the bottom of the sixth. Harrison then scored on a wild pitch. At the plate, K-D was led by Sarah Driggers (3-for-4, five RBIs, run, home run), Gabriel Wallace (4-for-4, RBI) and Rachael Delawder (2-for-4, two RBIs, run).
YORK CATHOLIC 16, BIGLERVILLE 10: At Biglerville, York Catholic's Liz Lynch and Carrie Fix combined for seven hits and seven RBIs in the Division IV game. Amanda Summers supplied two doubles for the Fighting Irish, who used a four-run fourth to break a 7-7 tie. The contest featured 23 hits and 28 walks. Fix, who was also the winning pitcher, struck out 11.
RED LION 15, SOUTH WESTERN 5: At Hanover, Alexa Taylor led the Lions, going 4-for-5, including a triple and a homer, to go with four RBIs. Ali Posey went 5-for-5 with four runs scored for the Lions, while Katie Shultz went 3-for-5, including a triple, to go with three RBIs. Hailey Orwig went 2-for-5, including a double; Taylor Gould went 2-for-4; and Paige Taylor went 2-for-3. For the Mustangs, Taylor Leonard went 2-for-4, including a double and a homer, to go with two RBIs. Sarah Bortner went 3-for-4. Red Lion improved to 3-1 in York-Adams Division I and 3-1 overall.
EASTERN 7, SUSQUE HANNOCK 6 (8 INNINGS): At Wrightsville, Sierra Arnold's three-run triple in the bottom of the eighth capped off a four-run inning to give the Golden Knights the come-from-behind York-Adams Division III victory. Lauren Reichart went 4-for-4 for the winners, while Grace Divet went 3-for-5. Erin Kalke, Chelsea Talbot and Katie Sollenberger each went 2-for-5. For the Warriors, Hannah Bentz went 2-for-5, including a two-run homer in the top of the seventh with two outs to tie the game. Emily Fodel went 3-for-4, while Madi Shockey, Brea Chandler and Morgan Martin each went 2-for-4.
BERMUDIAN SPRINGS 12, YORK SUBURBAN 2: At Suburban, the Eagles plated seven runs by the top of the second and went on to capture the York-Adams Division III game. Paige Dennison led the Eagles, going 3-for-3, including a triple and a double, to go with four runs scored. For the Trojans, Brooke Day went 2-for-3, including a triple.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.