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York-Adams softball stars enjoy memorable, dramatic night at PeoplesBank Park

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
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  • The Class of 2020 Softball Invitational was held at PeoplesBank Park on Thursday night.
  • The York Pirates beat the York White Roses in both games of the doubleheader.
  • The second game ended when Alyssa Bowlsbey hit a walk-off three-run homer.
Eastern York's Maelynn Leber delivers a pitch to Golden Knights teammate Analise Fenwick during the high school senior softball invitational at PeoplesBank Park, Thursday, July 16, 2020
John A. Pavoncello photo

Eastern York standout Maelynn Leber and Dover slugger Alyssa Bowlsbey may have gone to different York-Adams League schools, but the two recently-graduated seniors have forged a strong friendship.

Playing on different teams in the Class of 2020 Softball Invitational Presented by AAA of Southern Pennsylvania Thursday evening at PeoplesBank Park, the two friends shared another memorable moment.

For Bowlsbey, it will be one she will always remember.

For Leber, it’s one she’d probably like to forget.

With runners on second and third and no outs in a 2-2 game, Leber faced her friend with the game on the line in the bottom of the seventh inning.

After fouling off the first pitch, Bowlsbey ended a long night of softball by smashing a walk-off three-run homer to center to send the Dover grad’s York Pirates to a 5-2 triumph in Game 2 of the doubleheader vs. the York White Roses.

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Bowlsbey’s round-tripper at the home of the York Revolution also secured a sweep of the doubleheader for the Pirates, who claimed a 9-1 triumph in Game 1 earlier in the evening.

“She is one of my best friends,” Bowlsbey said moments after taking a picture on the field with Leber. “I was a little nervous up there because there is that rivalry when you’re playing against your friends.”

Leber, who pitched 6 2/3 innings over the two games, retired Bowlsbey on a grounder the first time they squared off in the second inning of Game 1. That at-bat was equally as nerve-wracking for Leber, a Shippensburg University recruit, as it was for her friend.

“She’s my best friend and I was so nervous,” Leber said. “I was like, ‘oh my gosh … what do I throw?’”

While Bowlsbey and her team came out on top, both girls appreciated the opportunity to play one last time in their scholastic jerseys after having their senior seasons wiped out by COVID-19.

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“I think this whole thing was just so cool,” Leber said. “I’m glad that the York Revolution did that for all the seniors in the area. I think it gave us all a great opportunity to connect with each other.”

“For me personally, this was a great way to end it,” Bowlsbey said. “I got to play with a lot of the girls that I play travel ball with. And I got to meet new people, too. It was cool to share our experiences during this whole COVID thing and losing our seniors years.”

For Bowlsbey, Thursday night’s contests will be remembered not only for her game-winning homer, but also for how her newfound teammates bonded after being together for just more than six hours.

“I know that together we all fought hard as a team,” she said. “And thankfully we came out as the winners.”

Kennard-Dale senior Lexie Kopko, who played on the White Roses with Leber, thoroughly enjoyed herself as well. The University of South Florida recruit was all over the field Thursday, playing center field, pitcher and then first base.

“It was really fun meeting all these new girls that I played against,” Kopko said. “All those years, I never really got a chance to talk to them, but tonight I did and I found out that they are all actually really cool.”

Like all of the other 22 girls that participated in Thursday’s games, Kopko was disappointed to have her senior season washed out. She felt like her K-D squad was primed for a long playoff run with a shot at capturing a PIAA title.

“Not getting a chance to play in districts or states was a bummer,” she said. “I felt like we had a really, really strong team and we had a lot of talent to go a very long way.”

Leber shared those feeling as well. Her Golden Knights were eagerly anticipating the shot to defend the District 3 title they won when Leber was a junior.

While she will not be there next spring, Leber feels like Eastern York will be a contender again.

“It was a huge bummer,” said Leber, who herself hit a solo homer to left in the first inning of Game 2 for the White Roses. “But I know for sure that the Eastern York program is going to see great things over the next couple of years. There are a lot of very, very talented girls coming up and I’m really excited to see what they will do.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.