NEW OXFORD — Asked what he was thinking when his team was locked in a tense, tie game with Delone Catholic entering the sixth inning, Central York softball coach Shane Walker said: "Dear God, hit that ball."
The Panthers must have read Walker's mind, because they collected four hits and exploded for eight runs in the sixth to build a commanding lead. Delone responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, but the Squirettes couldn't come all the way back and Central celebrated its third York-Adams title in the past four seasons with an 11-6 victory.
"Three titles in four years, it's something I could never imagine happening," Central's Kelsey Wisner said. "Winning three out of four years isn't something you think of your freshman year, but once you get one, once you get two, you start thinking, maybe we can get three, maybe we can get four."
Central got three, and the latest one will carry a special meaning for Wisner and her seven teammates who will graduate this spring.
"All of them (the titles) have been fantastic, but being my senior year, and I finished with a county championship, there's not more you can ask for," she said.
Wisner was one of three Central seniors to collect two hits on title-clinching day. Kyla Caruso drove in three runs with her two hits, while Wisner batted across two runs. Monica Albers supplied two singles, including a bunt single in the fifth inning.
"Monica laid down a perfect bunt, and Kyla came through with a hit to score her," Walker said. "Kyla, she's such a consistent hitter."
Albers bunted the ball between first base and the pitcher's circle and beat the throw to the bag. She moved to second on a groundout and later scored when Caruso came through with a two-strike, two-out single to right field.
The hit gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead, but Delone answered with a run in the bottom of the inning to tie the score and set the stage for Central's huge sixth.
"We've been struggling with keeping our weight back and driving our hands through," Wisner said. "After we started seeing ourselves getting weak ground balls, it was OK because we were making contact. Now, let's make the adjustment."
By adjusting, Central broke open a close game.
Kayla Resh pitched the entire game for the Panthers to earn the victory. After allowing a run in the first, Resh held the Squirettes to one run over the next four innings before Delone erupted for three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
"It felt pretty awesome winning with the eight seniors," Resh said. "It (winning for the third time in four years) means we have a good program, we work hard and we always are striving to achieve our goal."
Resh faced some very good hitters on Monday. Delone crushed five extra-base hits, including two doubles by Katie Laughman, triples by Shelbee Holcomb and Cassie Rickrode and a double off the bat of Shayna Rider.
"Kayla really gutted it out," Walker said. "It was a hot day. We went right from winter to summer. The top of (Delone Catholic's) order is phenomenal. They're going to do well in districts."
Delone Catholic is the top-seeded team in Class AA. Ten teams qualify for the AA playoffs.
Central, meanwhile, entered Monday's game ranked sixth in the District 3-AAAA power rankings. If nothing changes, the Panthers will have a first-round home game against Manheim Township, which is currently seeded No. 11.
— Reach Dick VanO'Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.