Lauren Walker was someone who Central York softball standout Taylor Rohrbaugh looked up to a year ago.
Tuesday evening at York's Memorial Park against Exeter, Rohrbaugh did her best impersonation of the former Pennsylvania Gatorade Softball Player of the Year.
The right-hander, who no-hit the Eagles through five innings, allowed just three hits over seven dominant innings in a District 3-AAAA first-round game. If that wasn't enough, Rohrbaugh also came up big with the bat. The sophomore drove in three runs in leading the Panthers to a 7-0 victory.
Central (20-3), the No. 2 seed in the AAAA bracket, moves on to the quarterfinals, where the Panthers will face No. 7 seed Elizabethtown (16-5) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at
"I try to make her proud," Rohrbaugh said of her former teammate, Walker, who now plays collegiately for North Carolina. "I hope that future players will look at this as motivation that you can (be just as successful)."
Rohrbaugh collected three hits in four at-bats and drove in three runs, including a one-out single in the first that put her team ahead.
Getting the early lead made things a little bit easier, Rohrbaugh said.
"If you (get the lead) in the first inning, that's great," she said. "It just gives me motivation throughout the whole game."
That output proved to be plenty for Rohrbaugh, who held the Eagles' lineup in check all game long with an over-powering fastball. Rohrbaugh struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.
Adrenaline had a lot to do with it.
"I feel like this game meant so much to me," she said. "Last year we lost in the first round of districts and this really, really means a lot."
The final score wasn't indicative of just how close the contest was throughout. After Rohrbaugh's RBI single in the first gave Central a 1-0 lead, both Rohrbaugh and Exeter pitcher Livi Rocco countered each other with four full innings of shutout ball.
Rohrbaugh, though, was excellent through five, allowing only one batter to reach base on an error.
The Eagles actually put some stress on the right-hander in the top of the sixth after a bad-hop single started the frame. A sacrifice bunt moved courtesy runner Tearah Burden into scoring position before leadoff hitter Morgan Sandritter blooped a single into shallow left.
Burden, however, held up to make sure the ball dropped in, and once it did, made a dash for third. Central left-fielder Kayla Resh quickly retrieved the ball and fired a strike to Kelsey Wisner. Wisner laid down a quick slap tag that got Burden's foot before she hit the base for a big out.
"We talked about it at practice that this team (Exeter) is going to run," Central coach Barry Brenneman said. "We spent a good bit of our practice throwing ahead of the runners and we knew they were going to keep going until we threw them out."
That's just what happened a batter later when Sandritter tested the arm of Central catcher Ally Dziwis. Dziwis was ready and fired a laser to get Sandritter by at least two steps.
"We knew what she was going to do," said Brenneman, who earned his first-ever district victory as a coach. "It was just executing. Everybody just did their job."
The Panthers jumped on Rocco in the bottom of the frame when they plated six runs. The first two runs scored on a throwing error before Rohrbaugh (two-run single) and Jordyn Miller (two-run triple) closed out the scoring.
Dziwis finished the contest with two hits for the Panthers, who collected 10 hits off Rocco.
OTHER DISTRICT 3 SOFTBALL
DALLASTOWN 3, GOV. MIFFLIN 2: At Spring Grove, Kelsey Collins pitched one-hitter to lead the Wildcats to the District 3-AAAA first-round victory. Collins gave up a single to the first batter she faced, then retired 21 straight batters. She struck out six and didn't walk anyone. Dallastown got its only run in the third when Hallie Morris and Haylee Anders hit singles and advanced on a passed ball. Morris scored on an infield single by Sam Hartman. No. 3 seed Dallastown improved to 17-3. No. 14 seed Gov. Mifflin finished at 12-9. Dallastown will now take on 11th-seeded Wilson (16-6) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Millersville University. Wilson beat sixth-seeded Warwick (15-5) on Tuesday, 5-2.
SPRING GROVE 3, SO LANCO 2: At Garrett Park in Willow Street, Erika Heck struck out 18 in a two-hit complete-game effort to spark Spring Grove's eight-inning victory in a District 3-AAAA first-round game. Heck walked just two. She also matched her season-best strikeout effort. Freshman Hayley Norton shined at the plate for Spring Grove, belting a two-run, inside-the-park homer in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie. Norton also doubled in the game. The 12th-seeded Rockets improved to 15-7, while fifth-seeded Solanco saw its season end at 17-4. Spring Grove will now take on No. 4 seed Central Dauphin (18-3) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday back at Garrett Park. Central Dauphin downed No. 13 seed Penn Manor (13-8) on Tuesday, 3-2.
GREENCASTLE 9, KEN NARD-DALE 1: At New Oxford, Kennard-Dale's season came to an end with a District 3-AAA first-round loss. Desi Joines pitched a complete game in the loss, striking out eight and walking one. Joines also scored K-D's only run on an RBI single by Sarah Baldwin. The 12th-seeded Rams finished at 11-10. No. 5 seed Greencastle improved to 16-5.
MANHEIM CENTRAL 8, NORTHEASTERN 1: At Millersville University, the Bobcats saw their season end with a District 3-AAA first-round loss. Northeastern, which entered the tournament seeded No. 19, finished at 8-12. The Bobcats did earn a 4-2 play-in victory over 14th-seeded East Pennsboro on Friday. No. 3 seed Manheim Central improved to 18-3.
LOWER DAUPHIN 10, NEW OXFORD 1: At Lebanon Valley College, the Colonials jumped on top 1-0 in the first inning, but it was all downhill from there in District 3-AAAA first-round contest.. No. 17 seed New Oxford finished at 13-9. No. 1 seed Lower Dauphin improved to 20-1. Katlyn Whitmore and Linsdey Miller each had two hits for the Colonials. Nicole Ayers pitched a complete game in the loss.
SCHUYLKILL VALLEY 13, BERMUDIAN SPRINGS 9: At Manheim Central, Bermudian's season ended with a District 3-AA first-round game that was shortened to five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule. Paige Dennison had two of Bermudian's three hits. The No. 8 seed Eagles finished at 10-11 overall. No. 9 seed Schuylkill Valley improved to 10-9.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.