MILLERSVILLE — With a pitcher such as Courtney Coppersmith on the mound, it’s easy for a team to exude confidence.
And Central has plenty of confidence.
The top-seeded Panthers (21-0) erupted for six runs in the third inning against fourth-seeded Warwick and then watched as Coppersmith fanned 17 batters, pitched a no-hitter and allowed just one walk en route to an 8-0 victory in District 3 Class 6-A softball semifinal action.
The victory puts Central in the District 3 final Wednesday against sixth-seeded Central Dauphin, a 5-0 winner over Penn Manor in the other semifinal. Because of a rainy forecast for Thursday through Saturday, District 3 officials decided to move up all of the baseball and softball games originally scheduled for Thursday to Wednesday. The Central York-Central Dauphin game is slated for 5 p.m. at Messiah College.
The Panthers, who have clinched a berth in states, are shooting for their first District 3 softball title since 2005.
“Let’s see, 17 Ks, no hits, one walk ... kinda makes me look smart as a coach,” Panthers coach Jim Miller said. “That’s just a big confidence builder when you have somebody on the mound like Courtney.”
Besides the no-hitter (one of many this year), Coppersmith, an NCAA Division I recruit heading to Maryland-Baltimore County next year, went above 500 career strikeouts in the contest, too.
“It’s a good feeling to get to the 500-strikeout mark,” Coppersmith said. “About halfway through this year, I started checking my stats, and to do that in 2 1/2 years is great.”
Six consecutive hits in the bottom of the third broke open the contest for Central. Natalie Craig led off with an infield single to start the uprising. Sophomore Emily Smith got the Panthers on the board with a two-run single. Taylor Sanders and Coppersmith also had RBI doubles in the inning.
Meanwhile, Coppersmith, who needed only 97 pitches, didn’t allow a base runner until the fourth, when Kate Seibert drew a one-out walk.
“We knew how good a pitcher she (Coppersmith) was,” Warwick coach Mark Hough said. “We tried to lay off the rising ball, but she was outstanding. Then, when they got those six runs in the third, it was like climbing a mountain.”
Central added a run in the fifth on Alexis McAnnaney’s RBI single and another run in the sixth on Taylor Sanders’ RBI single.
Sanders and Erin Cabry each had three hits for Central, while McAnnaney had two.
Warwick dropped to 16-6.
Lampeter-Strasburg 6, Spring Grove 0: At Messiah College, the Rockets' dreams of a District 3 Class 5-A title ended with a semifinal setback.
Seventh-seeded Spring Grove managed just four hits off Lampeter-Strasburg pitcher Brynne Baker, who struck out four without a walk.
Bailey Rapson pitched two shutout innings in relief for the Rockets, but by the time she entered Spring Grove already trailed, 6-0
Hannah Shaffer doubled for Spring Grove, which fell to 15-7. The Rockets, who have already clinched a PIAA 5-A state berth, will play in the District 3 5-A third-place game on Wednesday vs. top-seeded Solanco, a 2-0 loser to fourth-seeded Twin Valley in the other semifinal Tuesday. The Spring Grove-Solanco game is slated for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Carlisle High School.
Sixth-seeded L-S improved to 19-3 and will play for the district 5-A title on Wednesday.
West Perry 12, Eastern York 3: At Palmyra, the Golden Knights dropped a District 3 Class 4-A semifinal contest.
Maelynn Leber (three hits, double), Morgan Winter (two hits, RBI) and Haidyn Shaffer (two hits, run) led Eastern's 11-hit attack.
Eastern will now play in the district 4-A third-place game on Wednesday vs. fourth-seeded Bishop McDevitt at 4:30 p.m. at York College. McDevitt lost 7-0 in the other semifinal vs. top-seeded East Pennsboro. The winner of the Eastern-McDevitt game earns a PIAA state berth. The loser's season will be over.
Seventh-seeded Eastern York fell to 14-6. Third-seeded West Perry improved to 20-3.
Donegal 9, Northeastern 6: At York College, the Bobcats' hopes for a PIAA state berth ended with a District 3 Class 5-A consolation setback.
Haley Updegraff (two hits, triple, two runs), Megan Switzer (two hits, RBI), Nikki Stone (homer, double, RBI, run) and Jiselle Costano (homer, two RBIs, run) led the Bobcats.
Northeastern, the No. 15 seed, finished at 14-9. The Bobcats did earn a title this season, winning York-Adams Division II.
Third-seeded Donegal improved to 22-4 and will advance to the district 5-A fifth-place game. With a win in that game, Donegal will earn the fifth-and-final state berth in 5-A from the district.
Upper Dauphin 12, Fairfield 1: At Messiah College, Fairfield's season came to an end with a loss in the District 3 Class 2-A title game.
Only the District 3 champ advances to the PIAA state playoffs in 2-A.
Top-seeded Fairfield finished at 13-6. Second-seeded Upper Dauphin improved to 13-8.
Gena Eiker drove in the Green Knights' only run. Fairfield had just five hits.
Brandywine Heights 2, Delone Catholic 1: At Millersville University, the Squirettes fell in the District 3 Class 3-A title game.
Katie Ernst drove in Delone's only run.
Both teams will still advance to the state playoffs. Third-seeded Delone fell to 14-6. Top-seeded Brandywine Heights improved to 20-4-1.
Delone will face the District 6 champion on Monday in a first-round state contest.