Over the years, the Warwick softball team had gotten used to earning high seeds and enjoying short first-round trips in the District 3-AAAA playoffs.
After winning Lancaster-Lebanon League division titles in each of the previous eight seasons, the Warriors were in the unusual position this season of settling for a No. 14 seed and being forced to travel for its first-round district game.
Ultimately, however, neither the seeding nor the trip mattered when Warwick faced York-Adams League Tournament champion Central York at Memorial Park in York on Tuesday night.
The third-seeded Panthers were never able to solve Warwick starter Tessa Eckman, who baffled Central over seven dominant innings, surrendering just four hits in a 3-0 victory.
The setback ended Central's season a little sooner than expected at 20-3. Warwick (13-8) advances to face No. 11 seed Daniel Boone in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Daniel Boone beat No. 6 seed Chambersburg, 3-2.
"We just didn't get the hits tonight," Central coach Barry Brenneman said. "The pitching wasn't a problem. You can't win if you don't score."
The stage appeared set for Panther starter Taylor Rohrbaugh early in the contest. The Central right-hander, who yielded just four hits and one earned run while striking out 13, fanned six through three frames. Her fastball over-matched the Warrior lineup the first time through.
"We haven't played anyone in two weeks," Warwick coach Don Miller said. "We've seen some live pitching from our own girls, but we haven't seen anyone that throws that hard for a while. So I thought it might take us a little while."
Eckman was also on her game. Despite not possessing an over-powering fastball, Eckman was able to hold the Panthers hitless until Angie Delise opened the bottom of the fifth with a single.
"Tess is a real competitor," Miller said. "She's got a lot of movement on her pitches. I think when people watch her, they're not really impressed because she's not throwing hard. But she does mix her speeds up well and she goes in and out and hits her spots."
The visitors got all the runs Eckman would need in the fourth. Warwick's Cassidy Godber, who struck out in her previous at-bat, battled Rohrbaugh during a grueling 12-pitch plate appearance. Godber fouled off nine pitches before she was able to lace a single down the right-field line for her team's first hit.
"That was a huge at-bat," Miller said. "That's what you hope for from your senior. She showed how to battle and persevere."
After Victoria Byler sacrificed Godber to second, Godber moved to third on a wild pitch. Rohrbaugh, however, appeared to be in good shape to get out of the inning unscathed after getting Nicole Rottkamp to pop out to center before getting Ashley Royer to hit a grounder to second.
That grounder, though, proved costly when it was misplayed, allowing Godber to score. The lead doubled to 2-0 when August Mason ripped a two-out double down the left-field line to drive in Royer.
The Panthers' best shot to cut the lead came in the fifth after Delise (two singles) led off with a single. Two batters later, catcher Ally Dziwis reached on an infield single. Eckman, however, got fly outs to extinguish the threat.
While Central was expecting a much deeper postseason run, Brenneman is content knowing that much of his roster will return next year.
"We had a great season," Brenneman said.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.