MILLERSVILLE — While the teams that played in the York-Adams League softball championship game saw their seasons end a few days ago, Dallastown just keeps moving on.
Head Coach Howie Merriman is just fine with that.
The Wildcats’ postseason run took another big step forward Thursday when they squared off against Wilson in a District 3-AAAA quarterfinal.
Days after needing a big rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to edge Mechanicsburg, no comeback was necessary against the Bulldogs. Senior starter Jaelynn Harbold held Wilson to just five hits over seven scoreless innings, propelling her team to a 6-0 victory.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats (18-2) will face No. 3 seed Penn Manor (21-3) in the semifinals Tuesday. The Comets advanced after defeating Solanco, 1-0, in another quarterfinal played Thursday.
While Harbold and her teammates are not necessarily happy that both Central York and Susquehannock are finished with their seasons, that fact does make it a little more satisfying for a team whose only two losses were to those clubs. The Panthers and Warriors squared off in the league title game, which was won by Central.
“I respect both of those teams,” Harbold said. “They’re both very, very good teams, but we know that any team can win on any given day. So you always have to come out prepared.”
The Wildcats definitely were prepared for a Wilson team that was coming off an upset vs. No. 2 seed Exeter in the first round Tuesday. The Bulldogs managed just two hits against Harbold over the first four innings, one of which was erased to end the fourth on a nifty double play.
That gave the Dallastown offense enough time to strike against Wilson starter Emily Love. The Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of a Kelsie Merriman single and a sacrifice fly from Delaney Kolb.
The onslaught, however, was just beginning against Love, who allowed nine hits. Dallastown added three more hits in the fifth while scoring three times, all with two outs. Harbold started the rally with a double and scored on Danielle Ludwig’s single. After Mel Grant (2 for 3) singled, Kayla Flemens reached on a fielding error that scored Ludwig, who was 2 for 4 for the game.
Moments later, Briana Rufo, who ran for Grant, scored on a passed ball to make it 5-0. Lyndee Anders drove in the final run in the sixth with a hard single up the middle to make it 6-0.
“Sometimes our bats get hotter earlier than other (games) and you could tell because we’ve had to come back four times,” Harbold said. “But that just goes to show that this team is very good at picking up each other and staying hot.”
Coach Merriman was happy that his team did not get down despite missing the league playoffs. He said they became more focused and practiced harder. Now, all of that work is paying dividends.
“We had a great week of prep,” he said. “We’ve practiced very well and it just carried over to the games. Practices usually at this point of the season, you usually see the girls tend to lose the tempo a little bit, but the last two practices have been the highest tempo that I’ve seen this team have. They’re fired up and they believe right now.”
Notes: Eight of the nine Wildcat starters finished with at least one hit. Krista Flemens, the No. 9 hitter, ripped a pair of singles … Harbold struck out five and only walked one in pitching the shutout … Kelly Ebner collected three of her team’s five hits, all singles … The top four teams in the District 3-AAAA draw advance to states, meaning that Dallastown has clinched a PIAA berth for the first time since 2012.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.