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EMIGSVILLE — While Central York softball coach Shane Walker wouldn’t compare his team to the York Catholic girls’ basketball dynasty, it’s clear that there are some similarities.

Despite graduating a big chunk of last year’s starting lineup, the Panthers have filled those holes with capable replacements. That’s something that the Fighting Irish have done for the past decade.

Starting the season with a perfect 10-0 record can attest to that fact.

“I would love to say that we’re at that point,” Walker said of the Irish comparison. “And that’s a goal to get there, but obviously that’s an elite program. If you want to mirror a program, that’s one to consider. But I don’t think we’re there yet.”

They might not be there, but they’re getting close. Winners of four of the past five York-Adams Division I crowns, Walker’s outfit is one of the best around.

But one thing the Panthers were still seeking this year was a signature win over a rival. That chance came Wednesday when they hosted Division I foe Dallastown.

Widely expected to be the two teams competing for the division title, Walker’s club looked to gain some separation from the Wildcats. While it wasn’t easy — the Panthers scored the game-winning run in the eighth inning off a wild pitch — the Central crew was nothing but smiles after a thrilling 4-3 triumph.

“Fortunately the ball got by (the catcher),” said Central sophomore Cameryn Rothrock, who scored the winning run. “When I saw that ball pass I just took off.”

Rothrock (three hits, two runs scored) reached on a two-out double in the eighth. After a ground out to second moved the Central third baseman to third, she scored on a 2-2 count when Dallastown pitcher Jaelynn Harbold saw her pitch skip off the plate and toward the backstop.

No one was more excited to see the game end than Central starting pitcher Rachel Butler. The left-hander threw nearly 100 pitches to get through eight frames against a scrappy Dallastown lineup.

“I was so happy,” Butler said with a big smile.

Rothrock was quick to credit Butler for keeping her team in the contest. After Central took the lead in the first on a double-steal attempt (second and home), the Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the fourth to take the lead. That advantage, however, was short-lived. The Panthers responded back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. With Rothrock at first, teammate Courtney Coppersmith scored from third when Rothrock stole second. Rothrock scored herself when Erin Cabry singled to left-center to make it 3-2.

The visitors evened up the score in the sixth with a two-out rally. Lyndee Anders was hit by a pitch to start the rally before a single by Madisyn Johnson moved her to second. Kelsie Merriman followed with a single up the middle that plated Anders to even the score at 3-3.

That’s when Butler took over. The left-hander retired the final seven batters she faced.

“She really kept us in the game,” Rothrock said of Butler. “She did a really nice job.”

The fact that three of Central’s runs came on plays in which it didn’t register a RBI was a testament to Walker’s club.

“It’s about manufacturing runs,” he said after his team collected 13 hits. “Getting runners in scoring position, you put pressure on and things happen.”

Now with the Panthers sitting atop the Division I standings at 6-0, was there any doubt in their minds that they would be at this point ,considering the turnover from last year’s team?

Not really.

“I would have believed it,” said Butler, who allowed six hits while fanning eight in the victory. “We usually do pretty well.”

“Yeah, I have a lot of confidence in this team,” Rothrock added.

Anders led the Wildcats (8-2, 7-2) with two hits (single, triple) while Butler and Cabry collected a pair of hits apiece for Central.

OTHER SOFTBALL

Susquehannock 7, Dover 6 (12 innings): At Glen Rock, after seeing the Eagles take the lead in the top of the 12th inning, the Warriors responded. Anna Bryan singled to center, driving home Maddie Staub and Allie Kerr to push the Warriors to victory. The victory keeps the Warriors perfect on the year at 10-0 overall and 7-0 in York-Adams Division II. The Eagles fell to 7-3 and 4-2. Maddie Staub tossed all 12 for Susquehannock, striking out seven and walking one. Dover's Taylor Lamparter also pitched a complete game, striking out 14 and walking three. Kerr, Tyler Williams and Lexi Morin each recorded a pair of hits for the Warriors, and teammate Lily Yoakum had two RBIs. The Eagles’ Alyssa Lawton went 4 for 5.

Spring Grove 11, Red Lion 6: At Red Lion, the Rockets trailed 4-2 after three innings, but plated eight runs in the next three innings to take a commanding lead. The Rockets received one double each from Bri DiCandeloro, Caroline Cornman, Alyson Dietz and Julia Wivell, while teammate Kira Hull hit a triple. For the Lions, Kaitlyn Collins and Brianna Gonzalez each hit a double.

York Tech 10, Fairfield 1: At Spry, Lindsay McWilliams pitched a complete-game seven-hitter to get the win, striking out two without a walk. She also had three hits and an RBI at the plate. Alexis Forunier (three hits, three runs), Taylor Glace (two hits, three runs, two RBIs) and Ashley Tolley (three hits, three RBIs, two runs) also excelled at the plate for Tech.

West York 14, Northeastern 4 (5 innings): At West York, Skylar Sweitzer was 4 for 4 with a double, a triple, three RBIs and three runs scored  for the Bulldogs. West York pounded out 18 hits, including Paige Weekly’s triple. Taylor Sanger was 2 for 2 with a home run, four RBIs and a run scored for Northeastern.

Kennard-Dale 12, York Suburban 8: At Suburban, K-D plated nine runs in the third inning and three in the fourth en route to the win. Suburban fell to 7-3 overall.

Biglerville 19, York Catholic 0 (3 innings): At York Catholic, Biglerville pounded out 18 hits, including four from Courtney Taylor and three apiece from Lauren Brough and Helayna Stanko. Katelyn Danczyk tripled for York Catholic.

Littlestown 17, Eastern York 2 (3 innings): At Littlestown, the home team took advantage of 13 walks allowed by Eastern pitchers. McKenzie Somers picked up the win and Jill Gauthier doubled for the winners.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com

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