DALLASTOWN — The Central York softball team may have most of its lineup back from a season ago, when the Panthers claimed the York-Adams League title.
And the Panthers may have the best pitcher in the league in right-hander Taylor Rohrbaugh.
On any given day, however,those two facts can be meaningless, especially when the offense and pitching aren't dominating.
An up-and-coming Dallastown team proved that lesson to Central York on a windy Wednesday afternoon at Dallastown High School.
The hosts got a two-run double from Sam Hartman in the third inning off Rohrbaugh to take the lead for good. That was plenty of support for lefty Kayla Merriman, who struck out six and yielded just a single run, helping the Wildcats walk away from the Division I showdown with an impressive 4-1 victory.
"We're certainly playing a lot better," Dallastown coach Jeff Deardorff said. "We're hitting the ball, playing some good defense and getting some good pitching the last three or four games."
The Panthers (6-1 overall, 3-1 Division I) took the lead against Merriman in the top of the third with two outs. After a one-out walk to Rohrbaugh and a sacrifice bunt that moved her to second, the visitors struck first when Kelsey Wisner smoked a double, plating Rohrbaugh.
That lead didn't last long. Hartman (2-for-2) got the best of the Central pitcher with a two-out, two-run double off last year's Division I Player of the Year to put the home team ahead.
For Hartman, who has developed a knack for hitting in the clutch, her success against Rohrbaugh seems to come naturally.
"Honestly, she's may favorite pitcher to hit (against)," Hartman said. "I guess because it's such a challenge."
Rohrbaugh walked Hartman the next time she faced her, but paid for it when Merriman ripped a single up the middle to extend the lead to 3-1 in the fifth.
"I knew she wanted to face me," Merriman said. "And she walked Sam because Sam's a great hitter. And when she got to me I knew I was going to be all over it."
The Panthers mounted a threat against Merriman in the sixth. After a couple of errors and a walk loaded the bases, the lefty got out of trouble unscathed when right-fielder Mel Grant snagged a line drive off the bat of Angie Delise to retire the side.
Dallastown tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the frame. After Rohrbaugh hit the first batter of the inning, Ashley Werner smocked a triple in the right-center gap to make it 4-1.
The victory now puts the Wildcats (6-1, 5-1) in control of their own destiny in the Division I title race. For a team with just four seniors, including Hartman and Merriman, the thought of dethroning the Panthers would be a dream come true.
Merriman, however, realizes it's too early for her team to start celebrating.
"We play them again on May 2," she said. "We know they'll be ready and that we can't let our heads get big after this."
"Yeah," Hartman said. "We've got to keep it up."
Werner and Maggie Noll each collected two hits for the Wildcats, while Wisner and Kelsey Shifflett each registered a pair of hits for the Panthers.
York Tech 7, Biglerville 6: At Spry, the Spartans plated the winning run in the bottom of the eighth to capture the victory. Abby Polakoff and Lindsay McWilliams led the Spartans, with each going 2-for-4. McWilliams also picked up the victory on the mound, coming on in relief of starter Maria Hilbert in the top of the third. McWilliams struck out four and walked one. Alyssa Gohn went 2-for-5 for Tech.
Kennard-Dale 12, Eastern York 1: At Fawn Grove, Julia D'Arrigo excelled on the mound and at the plate in a game shortened to six innings because of the mercy rule. D'Arrigo pitched a two-hitter, striking out seven and walking three. She also had three hits, including a double. Alexis Valentine (three hits, double, homer, three RBIs, walk), Kelsey Farrington (two hits, three RBIs) and Kaila Beach (triple) also shined at the plate for KD. Karlee Livelsbarger homered for Eastern.
Susquehannock 4, Spring Grove 2: The visiting Warriors scored two runs each in the first and fourth innings to go up by four runs and held on from there to get the win and improve to 3-0 in York-Adams League competition. Madi Shockey went 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead Susquehannock at the plate while pitchers Sara Lynch and Kristi Langhans combined to hold the host Rockets to two runs on 10 hits. Caraline Cornman (3-for-3, two RBIs) paced the Spring Grove offense.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.