Central York softball pitcher Courtney Coppersmith struck out 18 batters Wednesday as the Panthers defeated Spring Grove, 3-1. After the game, Coppersmith and head coach James Miller discussed the team's victory.
A pair of York County girls are headed to a World Series sponsored by Major League Baseball.
This World Series, however, isn’t the Fall Classic held every October.
Instead, Dover’s Taylor Lamparter and Central York’s Courtney Coppersmith will compete in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Softball World Series in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from Aug. 11-16. The event is for players 18 and under.
Lamparter and Coppersmith each played pivotal roles in helping the Harrisburg RBI team recently win the Mid-Atlantic Regional in Washington.
Lamparter, a recent Dover High School graduate, was a standout for Harrisburg from her leadoff position during five games in the regional, going 5 for 11 with seven walks, good for a .455 batting average and a .667 on-base percentage. The outfielder scored seven runs and drove in five.
Coppersmith, a recent Central York High School graduate, was dominant on the mound, striking out 32 over 13 innings, allowing just one hit and two walks. In Harrisburg’s 7-0 championship game win over the D.C. Grays, Coppersmith threw a perfect game with 14 strikeouts.
Lamparter and Coppersmith helped the Harrisburg team outscore its five regional foes, 50-3. Harrisburg is now headed to the RBI World Series for seventh time in eight years. The only year Harrisburg did not make the World Series was in 2017, when Harrisburg did not field a team.
The RBI program: For those not familiar with the program, RBI is administered by MLB and has served approximately 2 million young people since its inception 30 years ago. According to MLB.com, the program is “designed to give young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, while also encouraging academic achievement and success and teaching the value of teamwork and other important life lessons.”
According to MLB, RBI features 300 programs in approximately 200 cities worldwide. MLB and its clubs have designated more than $40 million worth of resources to the RBI program, and all 30 clubs support RBI leagues.
Treated like royalty: Not surprisingly, both Lamparter and Coppersmith are thrilled with the World Series appearance. Lamparter competed for Harrisburg in the 2016 RBI World Series in Cincinnati, while Coppersmith will make her first World Series appearance.
“It was totally amazing,” Lamparter said of her 2016 World Series. “I got to meet so many new people. MLB treats you like royalty.”
A different experience: Lamparter said the RBI competition differs markedly from travel or club ball.
“There’s definitely a lot of different cultures (represented at the World Series),” Lamparter said. “It’s so diverse. We played the Dominican Republic in the last World Series. Most of them didn’t speak English, but we still got to listen to their music and see their dances. It definitely adds to the experience.”
During the World Series, the two local girls will obviously attempt to win a championship. They’ll also take part in several other activities, including: watching a Minnesota Twins game, performing for college coaches, taking part in a community service project, attending banquets and having the opportunity to meet some famous athletes.
Stretching their wings: Lamparter said the RBI organization also encourages the young athletes to stretch their wings.
“Mommy and Daddy aren’t there to hold your hands all the time,” she said. “It’s you, your softball team and your coaches. The parents can come to all the games, of course, but (the RBI experience) forces you to be responsible and take care of yourself.”
Coppersmith said she’s really enjoyed her RBI experience thus far and can’t wait for the World Series.
“You get to play with people you normally don’t get to play with, and who don’t get the opportunity to play in Florida and places like that (with traveling teams),” she said. “… I’ve become really close to the girls I’ve been rooming with (during the regional). I get to make good friends and play the game I love. … I’m really excited to have some fun.”
Club make-up: According to Coppersmith, about half of the Harrisburg RBI team is comprised of players from the City of Harrisburg and the immediate surrounding communities. The team is also permitted some additional players from greater southcentral Pennsylvania. That’s where Lamparter and Coppersmith come in.
After the World Series, Lamparter and Coppersmith will begin their college softball careers. Lamparter is headed to NCAA Division III Wilson College in Chambersburg, while Coppersmith will pitch for D-I Maryland-Baltimore County.
Before that, however, the two York County girls can’t wait for a journey to Minnesota that they’ll likely never forget.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.