Fowler pitches toward history, leads Dallastown softball past Central York

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

EMIGSVILLE — Gabby Fowler had a list of accomplishments she was looking to check off for her Dallastown softball team this year.

One of the bigger ones on Fowler’s list was breaking the school’s single-season strikeout mark of 178, set by Kelsey Collins.

Entering Wednesday afternoon’s contest with rival Central York, the Wildcats pitcher sat 19 shy of that mark. Getting there against a solid Central York squad would be extremely difficult, but with at least four more games left in Dallastown's season, Fowler’s goal seems possible.

While that achievement was on the ledger, however, Fowler's most important goal against the Panthers was earning a 'W.' The right-hander did everything she could on the bump to make that happen, striking out 11 batters and limiting the CY girls to just four hits on the day.

Aided by a two-run first against Central standout Ava Beamesderfer, the Wildcats were able to earn a pivotal 4-1 victory.

Dallastown's Gabby  Fowler (27) against Central York during their softball game in Dallastown on Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2023.

“In my three years of playing, we haven’t beaten Central twice,” Fowler said. “So that was big because they hit us last year pretty good.”

The Panthers swept the season set with the Wildcats in 2022, but Dallastown’s victory secured a sweep of its own over one of the premier programs in the area.

“This was a big win; a big county win,” head coach Matthew Dowell said. “They swept us last year, so we ended up doing the same to them this year.”

While the contest was big in the York-Adams League Division I standings — the Wildcats improved to 10-2 while the Panthers dropped to 8-4 — it was likely more pivotal in terms of the District 3 Class 6A power rankings. Both Central and Dallastown entered the day with 10-5 overall records, and the two sides occupied the Nos. 10 and 11 spots in the rankings, with only 12 teams making the district draw later this month.

This victory will go a long way toward securing a berth for the Wildcats, while the Panthers may need some help to stay in the top 12.

“We knew we had to win this game,” Dowell said, “but we didn’t allow that to be a distraction. We knew if we handled our business today that we were (likely) going to make it.”

Dallastown against Central York during their softball game in Dallastown on Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2023.

It was far from easy, though. On a chilly, breezy May afternoon, the Wildcats played what Dowell considered their best game of the season. While Fowler led the way on the mound, her defense picked her up a couple of times as the teams remained mired in a 2-1 contest through four innings.

The visitors scratched across an insurance run in the fifth on a two-out triple by Kameryn Paules before Alexi Dowell, who is Matthew’s daughter, connected for a home run just over the fence in right-center in the top of the seventh.

Dowell’s dinger ended a personal drought of sorts. After hitting four homers last year, the senior had been without a round-tripper in the 2023 season, despite hitting well over .400..

“She’s hit the top of the fence probably three times this year,” Matthew Dowell said. “And she normally struggles with Ava, but she made some adjustments at practice, and she was up for this game.”

Centerfielder Brooke Altland made a nice diving catch that robbed the Panthers of extra bases in the sixth inning.

“Huge ... huge,” Fowler said of Altland's play. “She’s just so good. There’s something about her playing at Central’s field that she just makes good catches.”

Dowell and Paules each finished with two hits for the Wildcats, while Brianna Twigg and Jenna Stiffler (single, double, RBI) each finished with two for the Panthers. Beamesderfer allowed four runs (one earned) on seven hits and struck out 11 in a complete-game loss.