Much of Central York's 1-0 softball victory against Dallastown on Wednesday went as expected in a meeting of the top two teams in York-Adams Division I.
The game came down to the final inning, and it was a pitchers' duel, featuring a lone run and a combined seven hits.
"About what I expected," Panthers coach Shane Walker said. "I would have been disappointed with anything less."
However, it was an unusual series in the top of the seventh inning that would allow Central (6-1 Division I, 8-1 overall) to triumph and pull within a half game of the Wildcats (7-1, 8-2) for the division lead.
With neither team able to generate much offense, the Panthers resorted to small-ball tactics to earn their run.
Central started the final frame with a single from catcher Briannah Dobson, who was replaced on the base paths by courtesy runner Erin Cabry. That was followed by a bunt single by center fielder Kelsey Shifflett. Monica Albers attempted a sacrifice bunt in the next at-bat, and when Wildcats catcher Melanie Grant's throw to first hit Albers on the helmet and caromed away from the defense, Cabry rounded third and thought she had scored.
But the umpires got together and ruled that Albers was in the field of play when the ball struck her, ruling her out. Cabry was forced to return to third base.
In the next at-bat, Cabry's quickness was on display when teammate Alyssa Stonebraker tried bunting to reach an open first base.
Cabry trekked down the line as she watched to see if Grant would try to get the out at first. Instead, Cabry ended up in a rundown on the third-base line. A series of quick cuts and short sprints later, she was back at third safely and the Panthers had the bases loaded with one out.
Panthers pitcher Kayla Resh would later help her own cause, hitting a slow roller to shortstop Maggie Noll. Cabry turned on the speed and was able to beat Noll's throw to the plate for the eventual winning run.
"We just called her up (from the junior varsity), it's the first time she's ever put on the (varsity) uniform. She's a special little player and she's especially quick," Walker said of the freshman. "And we needed some speed, so we brought her up and gave her an opportunity. Talk about coming through."
Cabry's usage was initially in question, though, after suffering an ankle injury in a JV game Friday.
Dobson had walked in her previous two at-bats, but with Cabry's status in doubt, Walker elected to use a different runner the first time. Cabry replaced Dobson for the first time in the fifth, but couldn't get past third base.
Both pitchers were sharp in the circle in complete-game efforts. Resh gave up three hits, striking out three and walking one.
Dallastown's Jaelyn Harbold took the tough-luck loss, surrendering four hits, striking out four and walking three.
Haley Klunk's sixth-inning double was the only other hit for Central. Grant singled for the Wildcats and Lyndee Anders was 2-for-3 with a double.
Despite the loss, Dallastown coach Jeff Deardorff is confident his club will rebound.
"They played good defense, we got really good pitching, we just didn't hit," Deardorff said. "We'll be OK, they all have short memories. Tomorrow at practice they'll be looking forward to Friday's game. They won't dwell on this."
The two teams will get together again May 4 in a match-up that will likely decide the division race.
"That'll be the tale of the tape," Walker said.
Dover 8, Susquehannock 6: At Dover, Natalie Cutright's two-run triple in the fifth inning broke a 5-5 tie and led Dover to the win in a battle of York-Adams Division II leaders. Cutright finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Dover also got big offensive games from Alyssa Lawton (2-for-3, three stolen bases), Lexi Gohn (2-for-3), Cassandra Root (2-for-4, RBI), Karsyn Blauser (3-for-4) and Meghan Goodman (2-for-3). Gohn also got the win on the mound, allowing four earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. Susquehannock's offensive leaders were Mallory Lebo (2-for-4), Lily Yoakum (2-for-4), Maddy Staub (2-for-4) and Ally Kerr (double, two walks). First-place Dover improved to 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the division. Susquehannock fell to 6-4 and 4-3.
Northeastern 5, West York 0: At Manchester, Katelynn Reed led the Bobcats by going 3-for-4, including a double. Also for Northeastern, Krista Anderson went 2-for-4, including a triple; Alli Sweitzer went 2-for-3 with a double; Kayla Jordan went 2-for-3; and Caitlyn Reinoehl went 2-for-4. Sweitzer also threw a shutout. For the Bulldogs, Jossalin Shipley and Kelli Caudill each doubled.
Spring Grove 17, Red Lion 4: At Spring Grove, the home team erupted for 13 first-inning runs and cruised to the five-inning, mercy-rule triumph to snap a three-game losing skid. Kira Hull and Lydia Harris combined to go 5-for-6 with six RBIs for the Rockets. Megan Teal was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Julia Wivell went the distance to get the win.
Littlestown 8, Eastern 1: At Wrightsville, Lindsey Snyder led the Thunderbolts by going 2-for-3, including a homer and a double. Teammate Kaitlin Yealy went 3-for-5, including a double.
Biglerville 19, York Catholic 6 (5 Innings): At Biglerville, Lauren Brough led the Canners by connecting for three hits, including two doubles. For the Irish, Sadie Wurbach, Katelyn Danceyk and Jennifer Nigro each had one double.
York Tech 10, Fairfield 9: At Fairfield, in a thrilling, extra-inning affair, the Spartans outlasted the Green Knights in nine innings. York Tech's Lindsey McWilliams tossed a complete game to earn the win. Kaitlin Barron hit a two-run home run for Fairfield, while Megan Whalen went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Kennard-Dale 4, York Suburban 1: At Fawn Grove, the first-place Rams improved to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in York-Adams Division III. Suburban fell to 4-4 and 4-2. Alexis Valentine got the complete-game win, striking out seven and walking one.
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.