If there has been a theme in the early going of the PIAA District Three baseball and softball playoffs this week, it has been one of upsets.
In just the Quad-A and Triple-A classifications alone, there were 14 games in which the higher-seeded team fell to its opponent in first-round games this week.
Lancaster-Lebanon League baseball teams Hempfield (Section One champ), Ephrata (Section Two champ), Donegal (Section Three champ), Lancaster Catholic (Section Four and L-L champ), and Manheim Central (Section Three runner-up) were all victims in the madness.
While the 4th-seeded Warwick baseball team avoided an upset bid from 13th-seeded South Western, there were seven Quad-A and Triple-A softball teams who weren’t as fortunate. Among the casualties were a pair of eight-seeds (Red Lion and Susquehannock), and a pair of six seeds (Chambersburg and Shippensburg). The highest seed to fall in those classifications was third-seeded Central York, who brought a 20-2 record into the playoffs.
The team that sent Central York home?
None other than Warwick.
They accomplished the feat with a 3-0 shutout in York on Tuesday, largely due to pitcher Tessa Eckman and one key at-bat.
Through three innings, the two teams combined for just two total base runners. But then came Cassidy Godber’s at-bat in the top of the fourth. It was one of 55 total at-bats that Warwick and Central York had in the game, but to me, it was clearly the best, and the one that most definitely turned the game.
Godber fell behind 0-2, but then battled like, well, a warrior. She fouled off six pitches from hard-throwing Central York pitcher Taylor Rohrbaugh and worked the count full. Finally, on the 12th pitch of the at-bat, she stroked a sharply-hit single into right field.
As Godber continued to send one foul ball after another over the backstop, you could sense the momentum, energy and excitement building on Warwick’s side of the field. All the while, it was no doubt causing a lot of frustration for Rohrbaugh as well.
So it was hardly a surprise that Warwick rallied for two runs after Godber singled and the Lady Warriors never trailed again.
It reminded me of Brett Myers’ at-bat in the Phillies 2008 NLDS against Milwaukee Brewers’ ace C.C. Sabathia when he ultimately worked a walk. It’s not often that a walk stands out as one of the highlights of a post-season, but that one was for Philadelphia.
Godber’s single wasn’t just any routine base hit for Warwick. Actually, if she had singled on the first pitch of the at-bat, it might not have had the same effect. It was the way she got her base hit that turned the tide for the Warwick girls.
It also made a winner of Eckman, who deserves a ton of credit for holding Central York off the scoreboard and allowing just three hits.
"That’s what you hope for from a senior … you hope she shows how to battle and persevere and make it happen and that was a key at-bat," Warwick skipper Don Miller said after the game of Cassidy’s at-bat.
The 4th-seeded Warwick baseball team also got a key at-bat to help turn the tide in their 5-0 shutout over 13th-seeded South Western on Monday. Warwick’s Travis Reapsome and the Mustangs’ Parker Bean were locked in a classic pitcher’s duel and South Western was looking to put its name on the list of upset winners. But the Warriors’ junior Ben Keyser had other ideas. He had the swing of the game when he sent a 3-2 fastball over the left field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Warwick a 1-0 lead. Before the end of the inning, that advantage had mushroomed to 5-0 and the Warriors were on their way.
Congrats to both the Warwick baseball and softball teams for advancing in District play.
More COLUMN, page B-10