The Central York softball pitching staff isn't 100 percent healthy to begin the season, yet it's already apparent the team has an embarrassment of mound riches.
Monday, in the Panthers' second game of the season, first-year head coach K.J. Livingston trotted out her No. 2 hurler, Briana Smith, to face York-Adams League foe West York. Smith was nearly as dominant as the team's ace (Courtney Coppersmith) was over the weekend in the team's opener, a 3-0 win over Northeastern.
Smith held the Bulldogs to three hits, leading Central to a 3-1 win, getting her team off to a 2-0 start. West York stumbled to 0-2.
Smith was in control from the beginning, rarely getting herself into trouble, while keeping the Bulldogs' offense in check.
"(I liked) her confidence," Livingston said about Smith. "She didn't lose any confidence. She knew she had a team behind her and she just took her time and did what she had to do."
The only run Smith allowed was an unearned run in the top of the fourth, which came off a two-out error. At the time, the Panthers held a 3-0 lead, so Smith limiting the damage to only one run kept a multi-run lead intact for Central. She cruised the rest of the way.
The Panthers' offense failed to capitalize on a number of chances in several innings, but made their chances count in the bottom of the third, scoring all of their runs in that frame. With two outs, catcher Briannah Dobson got Central on the board with a two-out, RBI single to break a scoreless tie. One batter later, Coppersmith extended the lead, blooping a hit into shallow center field, allowing two more runs to score, while she wound up on second base, taking advantage of a deep outfield.
"They just go out and win the at-bat," Livingston said about the timely hitting. "If you win enough at-bats, you win the inning. You win the innings, you win the game. That's just kind of the philosophy of the program."
As the season progresses, the Panthers' offense will eventually heat up. The starting lineup Monday had five returning starters from last year's Y-A League championship team. Yet, in two games to open the season, Central has only manufactured six total runs. The Panthers very easily could've had six or seven runs Monday, but left eight runners on base, including five in scoring position.
Gabby Ilyes excels for West York: Much of that had to do with the strong pitching performance of West York's Gabby Ilyes, who, despite taking the loss, kept her team in the game by coming up with timely pitches.
"Her breaking stuff was really breaking today," West York head coach Chris Ilyes said. "She kept them off-balance, kept it inside and outside, rise ball, low balls, she just kept them off-balance. They didn't really get a good beat on her all game."
While six of Gabby Ilyes' innings were clean, the third inning was a problem. However, Chris Ilyes felt she made the pitches, but plays weren't made in the field with two outs. Gabby Ilyes finished with a line of six innings, three runs, all earned, on six hits, with three walks and two strikeouts.
She was outdone, however, by Smith, who also tossed a complete game, allowing one unearned run, with a walk and seven strikeouts. Bre Harvey had all three West York hits.
Chris Ilyes knows that his team has the potential to win a York-Adams Division II title this year, but needs to see more from his players going forward.
"They got the talent and ability, but right now it's the fire," Chris Ilyes said. "I'm not seeing the intensity."
In the Panthers' two games so far this year, Coppersmith and Smith have combined to pitch every inning, allowing one unearned run. As Isabella Kostic works her way back from an injury, Livingston knows, once fully healthy, she has a starting rotation that will be a handful for foes.
"I'm looking forward to when Isabella comes back," Livingston said. "...It'll be a nice little threesome to go with."
Susquehannock 9, South Western 1: At Hanover, Kendra Gemmill pitched a four-hit shutout for Susquehannock. She also went 3 for 4 at the plate, including a homer, with two runs scored. Tyler Williams was 4 for 4 for the Warriors with two runs scored, while Julianne Cassady was 2 for 4, including a double, with a run scored.
Dallastown 8, Gettysburg 0: At Dallastown, the Wildcats rolled past the Warriors behind a strong pitching performance by Kelsie Merriman, who pitched a complete game, allowing just two hits and striking out seven. Delaney Kolb led the Dallastown offense with three hits, while Elena Rosas and Merriman each had two and Sarah Deller, Krista Flemmens and Rosas each drove in two runs.
Spring Grove 12, Dover 2 (6 Innings): At Spring Grove, Caraline Cornman led the Rockets by going 2 for 4, including a homer, with three RBIs and two runs scored. Julia Wivell homered for the Rockets with three RBIs and three runs scored, while throwing a complete game one-hitter on the mound, striking out seven and walking nine, Bailey Rapson went 2 for 4 and Bryn Sporer went 2 for 5 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored for Spring Grove.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.