York-Adams League spring sports preview: Players, teams to know as seasons begin
The calendar has officially turned to spring, and local high school sports are set to follow suit.
The York-Adams League’s 2022-23 winter season came to a close over the weekend. The league’s last two basketball teams — Central York's girls and Eastern York's boys — were knocked out of the state playoffs Friday, the high school swimming season ended with four days of PIAA championship action and the state bowling tournament wrapped up Saturday. Statewide, only the boys’ and girls’ basketball semifinals and finals are left to be played.
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Spring sports, meanwhile, waded back into the water last week and will be running at full speed by this coming weekend. Boys’ tennis teams were the first back in action, with a handful of baseball, softball and lacrosse teams kicking off their seasons shortly thereafter. Nearly every York-Adams League squad in those sports, plus boys’ volleyball, will be off and running by the end of this week. And the track and field season is quickly approaching as well.
While the league utilizes three divisions for the majority of fall and winter sports, the spring alignment is all over the map. Baseball and softball have four divisions, while boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and boys’ volleyball have one due to a smaller number of teams. There are two divisions for boys’ tennis and three for track and field. And the PIAA classifications vary across the board, too — baseball and softball have six classes, while local teams in the other sports will be competing in 2A or 3A.
Several division races in baseball and softball are sure to look different, as multiple teams have moved up and down due to enrollment changes and following Gettysburg’s offseason departure from the league. Some runaway division winners have new obstacles in their path, and a handful of teams have opportunities against fresh competition. And many of these chases will be underway by this weekend.
Each day this week features multiple games in nearly every spring sport, with the busy slate starting Monday afternoon. With seasons still in their larval stages, let’s take a look all around the local landscape.
Division I champion Dallastown brings back Player of the Year Conner Barto, who hit .451 at the plate and posted a 0.93 ERA on the mound last year. Reigning D-I Pitcher of the Year Carlos Caraballo (1.79 ERA) returns for South Western, which finished in between Red Lion and Central York in 2022. The Lions have two returning all-stars (Jason Kreiger and Connor Lawrence), while the Panthers have a Division I pledge in senior Alex Barger.
Susquehannock went unbeaten in Division III last year but has now moved into Division II, in part a result of Gettysburg switching to the Mid-Penn League. The Warriors — who bring back standouts Ben Koller (.456 average, 25 steals) and Joe Smith (1.84 ERA) — will contend with reigning D-II co-champions Spring Grove and New Oxford.
The new-look Division III could be wide open. Littlestown and Eastern York both went 8-6 in the division last year, with Bermudian Springs at 7-7 and Kennard-Dale at 5-9. Now West York drops down from D-II, where it finished fourth in 2022, to add intrigue to the race. Kennard-Dale’s Koy Swanson (a Maryland signee) and Eastern York’s Austin Bausman (a Marywood baseball and basketball commit) are among the headline names.
Delone Catholic shared the D-IV title with Fairfield, then won the District 3 Class 2A title and made the state semifinals. Both the Squires and Green Knights have plenty of talent to replace, while a handful of all-stars return throughout the division (such as Hanover’s Chase Roberts, York Catholic’s Brady Walker and Luke Campbell and York Tech’s Ethan Shimmel).
Central York dominated the York-Adams League last season, going 14-1 in Division I and capturing the county title before being sent home early at districts. Shane Walker’s group brings back D-I Pitcher of the Year Ava Beamesderfer (20-1, 1.76 ERA) and all-star catcher Brianna Twigg, among other key pieces.
Divisions I and II both look notably different this year. Reigning D-II champion South Western has moved up, while D-I contenders Northeastern and New Oxford have both bumped down. The Mustangs will hope to keep pace with Central York and Dallastown, while the Bobcats and Colonials are the early frontrunners in the second division. (York High is also in D-I this year; the Bearcats went winless as a D-III squad in 2022.)
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Littlestown’s Chelsey Stonesifer is the league’s most decorated returning player; she won both the D-III Player and Pitcher of the Year honors after hitting .475 with eight homers and posting a 2.11 ERA in the circle. The Thunderbolts split the division title with Bermudian Springs last year, but Stonesifer’s return makes them a popular preseason pick.
Division IV champion and District 3 Class 2A finalist Fairfield returns all-stars Alyssa Wiles, Ellie Snyder and Christina Hamilton, while runner-up Delone Catholic has all-star pitcher Amy Anderson back in tow.
Susquehannock and Central York were the biggest standouts last season; the Warriors went 13-0 in league play, but the Panthers (12-1) got revenge in the county final. Susquehannock, however, went on to capture the District 3 Class 2A championship and add one more win at states. The Warriors return six of their 10 league all-stars, although none were first-teamers last year. Central York brings back two of its seven all-stars: first-team FOGO Brian McGarvey and first-team defenseman Sam Czech.
Red Lion went 11-2 in the league last year and returns all-star first team midfielder Jack Gulley. New Oxford, South Western and Dallastown are looking to move up after each going 9-4 to tie for fourth place. And York Catholic, Eastern York and West York (all 6-7) have returning talent and hope to be a factor as well.
Two-time YAIAA Player of the Year Sydney Mentzer has left York Catholic for York College, but the reigning league champion and District 3 Class 2A runner-up Irish still have Attacker of the Year Katie Bullen and Goalie of the Year Amanda Reed (both of whom were part of the girls’ basketball team’s state playoff run. York Catholic also has a new leader on the sidelines, as Jim Mullen takes over after Rob Linthicum coached the program for 14 years.
Susquehannock was second in the league and third in the district last season, and the Warriors return five league all-stars — led by first-team defender Sienna Kopp — to York Catholic’s six. Then there’s South Western, which brings back first-team attacker Kloey Batchellor and midfielder Lexie Plesic from last year’s third-place squad.
Dallastown, which went 8-4 in the league last season, will hope to compete with the aforementioned teams at the top. The rest of the conference is filled with unknowns but has plenty of promise.
The local volleyball community is still reeling from the death of beloved Central York coach Todd Goodling in January. The Panthers will be coached by a committee that includes Landon Shorts, John Feldman and Brock Anderson — all former standouts in the program. And Central’s players will look to rally together and challenge for a league title after tying for third last season.
York Suburban shared the regular-season crown and won the county tournament in 2022; while the Trojans lost plenty of seniors from that group, they still have district all-star middle hitters Jackson Bryant and Matt Torres. Northeastern, the other regular-season co-champ, lost both of its district all-stars but retains a strong core. Red Lion has plenty of upperclassmen ready to thrive in bigger roles, while several other teams will look to take a step forward.
York Catholic is a YAIAA member for the first time this season after going 15-4 as an independent squad in 2022. The Irish — whose coach, Phil Autrey, led the girls’ team to the state final in the fall — have senior twins Luke and John Forjan returning after district all-star campaigns.
Dallastown returns four of seven starters from last year’s District 3 Class 3A championship team, including Hayden Koons, who was YAIAA 3A singles runner-up as a freshman. Red Lion and South Western were the other D-I contenders in 2022, but both enter this season with a shortage of sure things in the lineup. The Lions, though, bring back district doubles qualifiers Andre Nadeau and Cooper Wheeler.
Susquehannock and Hanover split last season’s D-II title with now-gone Gettysburg. The Warriors are headlined by district qualifier Colin Brusse, while the Nighthawks return No. 1 singles player Charlie Zitto. Bermudian Springs (10-3, 5-3) also has a pair of reigning district doubles qualifiers in Parker Sanders and Eli Snyder.
TRACK AND FIELD
There’s a wide range of superstars returning to local tracks this spring.
Spring Grove’s Laila Campbell, still just a junior, is the reigning girls’ state champion in the 100 and 200 meters. Bermudian Springs’ Lily Carlson won the District 3 Class 2A pole vault title as a freshman last year, while junior teammate Alison Watts won district gold in the triple jump after finishing second at the league meet. Susquehannock’s Nicole Dauberman and Dallastown’s Kailey Granger, both coming off district cross country titles, hope fall success will translate to distance events this spring.
On the boys’ side, plenty of locals are seeking district and state gold after coming close in previous years. Susquehannock’s Matthew O’Brien, also a district champion in cross country this fall, was second at districts in the 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600 after winning league titles in both events. South Western’s Bernard Bell was the YAIAA champion and District 3 runner-up in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. And Central York’s Danny Pham was fourth at districts and sixth at states in the shot put.
South Western, Susquehannock and Bermudian Springs both swept boys’ and girls’ team titles in their respective divisions last year. All should be factors once again, but it won’t be easy in a deep and talented association.