Delone Catholic finishes off first-round state AA softball triumph
On Wednesday, Delone Catholic's softball team finished what it started on Monday.
There was little or no drama in the completion of the first-round state Class AA state playoff game. Delone Catholic shut out Philadelphia Academy Charter, 6-0, to secure a berth in Thursday's quarterfinals.
The District 3 champion Squirettes will take on District 2 champion Holy Redeemer, of Wilkes-Barre in the next round at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Lebanon Valley College. Holy Redeemer beat District 4 champion Wellsboro on Wednesday, 3-2.
Delone (19-4) opened a 4-0 lead in the first inning on Monday before a thunderstorm rolled through York College and caused the umpires to suspend the game.
When action resumed on Wednesday at York College (Tuesday was also a washout), the Squirettes tacked on two more runs in the second inning and then turned things over to pitcher Cassie Rickrode and her defense.
Delone collected seven hits in the game, with four of the hits, including both doubles, coming on Monday. Delone packed its other three hits into the third inning on Wednesday while going hitless in its other four at bats.
"We won the game, but we didn't hit," Squirettes' head coach Don Smith said. "We had one of these (suspended) games before where we didn't play well when we picked it up in the second inning. I don't know why."
Delone didn't need to crush the ball the way that Rickrode was pitching and the way the defense was playing behind her. Delone committed just one error.
The junior right-hander held the visiting Chargers to three hits, all singles. Rickrode had a no-hitter going for 3 2/3 innings before Philadelphia Academy Charter's Riley Walker broke up the bid by stroking a 3-1 pitch into left-center field.
Rickrode struck out six and walked two against the District 12 runner-up.
"It was definitely nice to know we had four runs when we started today," she said. "It seemed like we were starting a new game, but we weren't."
Despite not allowing any runs, Rickrode saw room for improvement.
"My pitches need to be sharper and harder for (Thursday)," said Rickrode, who wasn't pleased with her off-speed pitch. "Same with the hitters. All of us need to hit more as we go on. This year, we've hit the whole way through the lineup, and I've relied on my defense a lot."
Delone's Karley Coleman collected two hits in the unusual two-day contest. Rickrode and Mikayla McCleaf drilled doubles for the York-Adams Division IV champion, with McCleaf's two-bagger in the first inning scoring two runs.
Walker, the Philadelphia Academy Charter pitcher, allowed just two runs in Delone's final five at bats, and both runs were unearned.
Having passed their first test rather easily, the Squirettes' goal of a state title remains alive. The quarterfinals are the furthest a Delone softball team has advanced in states.
"We're hoping to make school history and go as far as we can " Rickrode said. "It's always an exciting bus ride going up to these games."
Asked after the game what he knew about Holy Redeemer, Smith said: "Not a thing. We knew more about Wellsboro than we knew about Holy Redeemer."
Smith knows one thing for sure: His team has the potential to make a deep run in the state playoffs.
"They have the ability to do it, but, of course, if you lose one game, you're done," he said.
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at email@example.com.