SPRING GROVE — Wednesday's Central York-Spring Grove softball game more than lived up to its billing.
The Panthers and Rockets, with just one loss each in league play this season, clashed with the York-Adams Division I title on the line.
The game featured terrific pitching, clutch hits and outstanding fielding plays.
Not surprisingly, the showdown required more than seven innings to complete.
In the end, Central did the celebrating after striking for the winning run in the top of the 10th inning to earn a 2-1 victory.
Under PIAA rules, a Central runner (Laurel Lokhaiser) took second base before a pitch was thrown in the 10th. Karly Fink sacrificed Lokhaiser to third, and following a popout, Lokhaiser crossed the plate on an error.
Spring Grove also placed a runner at second to start the bottom the 10th, but the Rockets were unable to get her home.
"It was one of the best games we've had, but you would expect it to be with No. 1 on the line," Panthers' head coach K.J. Livingston said. "It will prepare us going into districts."
Central pitcher Courtney Coppersmth, who recorded a perfect game on Monday, was brilliant again 48 hours later. She held Spring Grove to just two hits, striking out 12 and walking one. The junior left-hander was just one out away from a shutout when the Rockets' Bailey Rapson lined a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game.
"It wasn't hard to bounce back (from the yielding the game-tying hit)," Coppersmith said. "You always get mad at yourself and think, 'if I hadn't thrown that pitch.' But we came back and thankfully, ended up winning."
Coppersmith said her best pitch was a high fastball or a rise ball "that they (the Rockets) kept popping up."
Coppersmith's, batterymate, Bri Dobson, displayed her agility by catching four of the popups in foul ground, including the final two outs of the game.
Dobson, who also collected two hits, singled home Central's first run in the third inning when she drove in Delaney Boylan with a two-out single. Boylan doubled down the left-field line and raced home on Dobson's single to right.
"She's one of the best catchers I've ever played with," Coppersmith said. "We've basically grown up together. It's going to be hard not having her by my side next year."
Dobson was hoping the Panthers would finish on top of Division I one more time in her senior year.
"It's a great feeling," she said. "It's my final year with these girls."
The loss naturally stung Spring Grove, but the Rockets will be able to look back on a terrific season. Of course, they aren't done playing yet. They'll compete in the District 3 Tournament.
"It hurts to lose this one," Spring Grove head coach Mark Hull said. "But, it's a good stepping stone going into districts."
Julia Wivell pitched well for the Rockets on Wednesday. One of just two seniors on the team, Wivell allowed five hits while striking out four and walking two. Only one of the runs she allowed was earned.
Boylan, Central's left fielder, made an terrific running catch in the fifth, and Rapson, Spring Grove's center fielder, recorded a backhand running catch in Central's eighth. Central's Lorna Colberg, playing second base, made a backhand stab on a hard ground ball and threw out the runner in the eighth.
Central improved to 19-1 overall and finished 14-1 in the division. Spring Grove fell to 14-5 and 12-2. Central has now won three straight D-I titles and owns nine D-I crowns since 2006. By winning the division, the Panthers also earned a berth into next week's league tournament.
West York 6, Gettysburg 3: At Gettysburg, Gabrielle Ilyes pitched a complete-game six-hitter, allowing two earned runs, to get the win. Paige Weekly homered, drove in two runs and scored a run for West York, while Leah Jameson added three hits, two runs scored and an RBI. Hannah Scheivert collected two hits and two runs scored for the Bulldogs.
Hanover 10, York Suburban 5: At Hanover, Sarah Hartinger (three hits, two runs, RBI) and Alexis Jury (two hits, two runs, RBI) had big offensive games, but it wasn't enough for the Trojans.
South Western 7, Red Lion 1: At Red Lion, Kaitlyn Chell led the Mustangs by hitting a triple and a double.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.