LinkedIn11COMMENT11MORE11

Kennard-Dale's softball team had to wait an extra day to begin its quest for a state title.

Once the Rams finally did begin play Tuesday, it didn't take them long to advance from the round of 16 in the Class 4-A bracket to the quarterfinals — 56 minutes to be exact.

The District 3 champions pounded out 16 hits in just four at bats in rolling to a 15-0 victory over District 12 runner-up Esperanza Academy. The umpires stopped the game with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning because of the 15-run mercy rule.

The contest had been originally scheduled for Monday, but rain pushed it back one day.

"I didn't know what to expect, but I didn't expect this," K-D head coach Greg Coulton said. "Now, we have to get them (his players) from 30 miles per hour (pitching) to 57 miles per hour. That's going to be the hard part."

The Rams (19-3) displayed patience with the slow offerings of Esperanza pitcher Ashley Santiago. They stayed back, waited for their pitch and drove the ball to all parts of the York College field.

Jaedyn McKeon and Lexie Kopko led the K-D attack by drilling three hits in four at bats, scoring three runs each and driving in three runs apiece. Two of McKeon's hits were triples.

"We were told to, at least, take one (pitch) for the first time through the lineup just to see her," McKeon said. "After that, it was more like batting practice, wait for your pitch to drive. We had no idea, hitting, pitching or fielding, about this team."

K-D started slow, with one run in the first inning, but the Rams then exploded with seven runs in the second, five runs in the third and two in the fourth.

Amber Belt's double drove in Kopko with the 15th and final run. Belt and Marguerite DeFranco supplied two hits each for the winners.

Meanwhile, Rams' pitchers Alexis Hurley and Brittany Orwig, who each worked two innings, held the Philadelphia team to three hits, all singles. Neither K-D pitcher gave up a walk, while they combined for four strikeouts.

The victory earned K-D a quarterfinal match-up with Yough, the District 7 runner-up. The game is set for Thursday at a site and time to be determined. Yough booked its ticket to the state quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory over District 6 champion Bellefonte on Monday.

"Thursday is our graduation," Coulton said. "So, the game could be moved or it could be played at an earlier time, like 11 o'clock. We'll just have to wait and see."

Whatever day or time the game is played, Coulton is looking forward to at least one more practice and one more game with the 2017 Rams.

"I love these girls," he said. "They're the best chemistry group I've ever had. They love each other, and they play good together."

Coulton also complimented the team his players defeated to reach the quarterfinals.

"Give those girls credit. When they were going through the line (at the end of the game), they all had smiles on their faces, and they had fun, and that's  what it's all about," he said.

Rockets and Panthers see seasons end: Spring Grove and Central York saw their successful 2017 softball seasons end Tuesday.

The Rockets fell to Bishop Shanahan, 5-2, in a PIAA Class 5-A first-round contest at Messiah College in northern York County.

The Panthers dropped a 1-0 decision to Hempfield Area in a state 6-A first-round battle at California University of Pennsylvania.

The District 3 runner-up Rockets finished at 18-7. Bishop Shanahan (15-7), the third-place team from District 1, moves on to the state quarterfinals.

Julia Wivell pitched a complete game for the Rockets, allowing six hits and two earned runs. She struck out seven and walked four. Spring Grove committed a pair of errors, leading to three unearned runs.

Briana Dicandeloro and Caraline Cornman each had two hits for the Rockets. Bryn Sporer and Cornman each doubled. Sporer and Hannah Gartrell each drove in a run.

Central's season ends at 23-3. The Panthers claimed both the York-Adams Division I and York-Adams League Tournament titles before finishing third in District 3.

Central couldn't solve Hempfield's standout pitcher, Morgan Ryan, who is committed to pitch for Notre Dame next season. Ryan pitched Hempfield to the PIAA Class 4-A state title a season ago and the Spartans have won three straight District 7 crowns. Ryan entered the game with an ERA below 1.00 and that went down after Tuesday's shutout.

Central's Courtney Coppersmith nearly matched Ryan, allowing just one run, on Ryan's fifth-inning homer.

Each team had four hits. Natalie Craig had two hits for Central.

Hempfield Area (24-0) now has a 38-game winning streak.

Reach Dick VanO'Linda at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

LinkedIn11COMMENT11MORE11