If you thought this past York-Adams League Division I softball season was great, just wait until next spring.
That's the sentiment of Central York coach Barry Brenneman, whose Panthers claimed the division title this year.
Nearly all of the top players in the division will come back en masse next year, including Division I Player of the Year Taylor Rohrbaugh.
The sophomore was selected as the division's most outstanding performer by the coaches after an excellent season for the Panthers. Rohrbaugh finished with a 19-5 record and a 1.62 ERA on the mound, where she fanned 150 batters in 173 innings. She was a menace at the plate as well, batting .447 with eight doubles, four triples, a home run and 22 RBIs in just 85 at-bats.
While Rohrbaugh was honored by the Division I coaches, the senior tandem of Kennard-Dale's Desi Joines and Spring Grove's Erika Heck were named Co-Players of the Year in Division II. Littlestown's Skye Ripple was awarded the Division III Player of the Year, while York Catholic's Carrie Fix and Delone Catholic's Deanna Laughman shared the Division IV Player of the Year award.
Brenneman had little trouble articulating just what Rohrbaugh meant to his team.
"Obviously for our team, her leadership qualities were important," he said. "Not only did she perform well on the mound, but she also performed well offensively for us. She did everything. She batted over .400, and leading us the way she did with her pitching was pretty much why she got the Player of the Year."
Rohrbaugh's most impressive performance came in the league title game against Division III champion Littlestown, according to Brenneman.
"We took the lead (early) in that game, but then Littlestown battled back," said Brenneman, who was named as Co-Coach of the Year in Division I along with Dallastown's Jeff Deardorff. "It was just a tight game and she kept us in it. Then she delivered a game-winning home run on top of it. That's just the one thing that I remember, but I'm sure there were many, many more as well."
Both Heck and Joines have one other thing in common, besides sharing the Player of the Year honor -- both surpassed the 500 career strikeout mark this past season.
Joines, a senior, fanned an amazing 213 batters in just 130 innings with an ERA of 1.93. She also held her own with the bat, finishing with a .367 average.
Perhaps Joines' best effort came in a 1-0 victory over the Rockets in April. Joines pitched a two-hit shutout, fanned 10 and also collected three hits in the triumph.
"I'm so proud of her, and I know her family is," K-D coach Amy Fisher said earlier this season. "She's been our primary pitcher for 21/2 seasons. To hit 500 strikeouts is huge."
Heck compiled a 1.87 ERA in leading Spring Grove to the Division II title. Heck's season highlight came when she pitched a perfect game in nine innings while fanning 18 against K-D in the teams' second of two showdowns.
"She has been clutch for us and kept us in close games," said Rocket coach Mark Hull, who was named the Division II Coach of the Year.
Heck finished her final campaign with 149 strikeouts, giving her 560 for her career. She finished her high school career with a 38-21 record, which included a 13-8 mark this past season.
"Clutch pitcher when we needed her," Hull said. "Losing (someone like her) will be very difficult."
While the Irish may not have fielded the most competitive team on the field, the opposition clearly respected the play of Fix. The sophomore led the Irish with seven homers, 27 RBIs and 20 runs scored. She also hit an astounding .611 (33-for-54). Even more amazing is the Irish star didn't strike out once all season.
"She played a humongous role for us this year," Irish coach Lisa Whaley said. "Of those seven home runs, one of those was a grand slam (vs. Littlestown)."
Whaley recalled just how much respect that Fix received in that contest against the Bolts.
"The next time up they walked her because there were runners on base," Whaley said. "The time after that they pitched to her because there was no one on base and she hit another home run. We didn't win the game, but Carrie challenged the other team."
Laughman scored an astounding 44 runs in leading the Squirettes to the division title behind Coach of the Year Don Smith. The sophomore batted .573 and drove in 19 runs.
Ripple was the clear choice for Player of the Year in Division III. She led the Thunderbolts to the league title game. The senior batted .571 with three doubles, two triples and seven homers.
Eastern York's Brad Rohrbaugh was named the Coach of the Year in Division III after leading his Golden Knights to a 9-5 record in the division and a 10-9 mark overall. The Knights finished tied for second in the division.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.