MANCHESTER — With the goal of capturing the York-Adams League Division I title pretty much out of the question, you might believe that the Spring Grove softball team has little to play for as the regular season winds down.
You would be wrong, at least according to the veteran Rockets' head coach, Mark Hull.
After making the PIAA playoffs for the first time under Hull a season ago, the Spring Grove girls know they need to gear up for what they hope will be a return trip to states later this month.
That much was evident Thursday afternoon, when the Rockets took on Division II-leading Northeastern at Manchester. The visitors scored runs in the third and fourth innings to take the lead before adding on two more in the fifth en route to a 4-1 triumph.
Spring Grove looked in playoff form, improving to 10-5 overall and 8-3 in Division I, which keeps the Rockets three games behind unbeaten Central (12-0) in the loss column. Theoretically, the Rockets could still earn a piece of the D-I crown, but that's extremely unlikely.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, dropped to 9-5 overall and 9-4 in Division II.
“We’re constantly looking at the District 3 (Class 5-A) standings,” Hull said. “We came in eighth and they were 13th, so this was a huge win. It really helps us out.”
Rapson excels on mound: Pitcher Bailey Rapson held the Bobcats in check. Rapson limited the home team to four hits and a RBI single by Northeastern catcher Haley Updegraff in the third inning that evened the contest at 1-1.
The Rocket lineup did what it needed in support of Rapson by piling up 11 hits against Bobcat starter Belle Bortner. Of course three of those hits came off the bat of Rapson, who batted third in the Spring Grove lineup. Hannah Gartrell finished with two hits and an RBI, while Hannah Shaffer drove in two runs with a double in the fifth.
The weather, which has been a source of so much frustration for all of the softball coaches so far this spring, was a complete 180 of anything either side has experienced so far this year. With the temperature in the high 80s, along with blue skies and a brisk breeze, jackets and long sleeve shirts were definitely not necessary attire.
Playing in the heat, however, may not be all too welcome if Thursday’s weather trend continues, according to Hull.
“It kind of went from winter to summer,” Hull said with a smile. “But we’ve still got a lot games to still make up. We have a game on Saturday (vs. Gettysburg) now and then three games Monday (Senior Night vs. South Western), Tuesday and Wednesday next week. So it’s going to be very tight and difficult to keep the girls up, especially with this heat. It’ll be a different task of trying to get them all to stay focused.”
Stepping up: After losing two of their better players in pitcher Julia Wivell and catcher Carline Cornman from a year ago to graduation, Hull has been impressed with how his girls have stepped up when needed so far this year. Rapson is obviously one of them, but she is far from the only one.
“Defensively we’ve been really strong this year,” Hull said. “And it doesn’t matter if I move girls into different positions. They seem to come up big. We are a solid defensive team. And offensively we’ve been hitting well all year. When you’re facing (dominant pitchers), it’s a little different, but when we play teams with a pitcher that is not as dominant ..., you’re expected to get some hits and we always seem to do that.”
Amber Weirich collected half of the hits for the Bobcats with a pair of singles.
Kennard-Dale 22, York Catholic 1 (3 innings): At Fawn Grove, the unbeaten Rams rolled behind big games from Maddie Miller (triple, four RBIs, four runs, three walks), Crystal Mullins (two hits, double, four RBIs, two runs), Jaedyn McKeon (two triples, four RBIs, run), Amber Belt (two hits, double, two RBIs, two runs), Alexis Hurley (two hits, three runs, two RBIs), Brooke Ashenfelter (double, two RBIs, three runs) and Chloe Parker (double, three runs, two RBIs). K-D improved to 13-0 overall and in York-Adams Division III. The Rams have already clinched the division. York Catholic fell to 8-6 overall and 8-4 in Y-A Division IV. Hurley got the win, allowing only one hit, a triple to Kelleigh Pollock.
Dallastown 19, South Western 2 (4 innings): At Hanover, Elaina Winemiller drove in five runs, scored three runs and had three hits, including a homer and a double, to power the Wildcats. Dallastown also got big games from Delaney Kolb (two hits, three RBIs, two runs), Shauna Stotler (four hits, two doubles, two RBIs), Elena Rosas (three hits, homer, three runs, two RBIs), Brianna Rufo (two hits, two runs, RBI) and Barbara Black (two hits, run). Kelsie Merriman got the complete-game win and didn't allow an earned run. Dallastown improved to 13-4 overall and 10-4 in York-Adams Division I.
West York 15, Biglerville 0 (3 innings): At West York, Breanna Harvey (four hits, triple, two RBIs, two runs), Leah Jamison (two hits, three RBIs, two runs), Savannah Bortner (three hits, three runs, two RBIs) and Kourtney Hartzel (two hits, three RBIs) led the Bulldogs. Three West York pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout.
Susquehannock 2, Delone Catholic 1: At McSherrystown, Kari Cox pitched a three-hit complete game, striking out four. Brooke Bosley (two hits, RBI) and Maddy Marzullo (two hits, run) led the Warriors' attack.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.