Warriors advance to District finals

By on May 29, 2019
Warwick sophomore Katelyn Minney mows down the Central York bat-ting order in last Friday’s 1-0 win in the District quarterfinals. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Warwick sophomore Katelyn Minney mows down the Central York bat-ting order in last Friday’s 1-0 win in the District quarterfinals. Photo by Missi Mortimer

If Warwick’s dugout was more relaxed Tuesday than it’s been recently, there’s a good reason.

A four-run first-inning seemed to do just the trick.

It was more runs than the Warriors had scored in their last three games combined.

“We were able to sing along with the warm-up music (between innings) and just have a good time,” senior second baseman Catie Brubaker laughed.

The top-seeded Warwick girls were no doubt still singing on their bus ride home, having earned a 4-1 victory over No. 4 Dallastown in the District Three 6A playoff semi-finals at York College’s Spartan Softball Stadium.

The win not only clinched a berth in States, but sends the Warriors (18-3) to Thursday’s District championship game against 2nd-seeded Central Dauphin (20-2), a 3-1 winner over No. 3 Chambersburg, at a site and time to be determined. Warwick will be looking for its first District Three title since 2003.

“It’s pretty exciting considering when we lose, I’m done,” Brubaker said, “so it’s pretty exciting to be able to go to District (finals) and States and continue softball for a little longer.”

“I’m so excited,” said sophomore pitcher Katelyn Minney, who pitched a complete-game two-hitter with seven K’s for the win. “We made it last year and I’m ready to go again.”

First, however, there is the business of the District Three 6A finals.

And after knocking off a tough pitcher in Dallastown’s Kelsie Merriman, the Warwick girls should have some momentum.

“I think it gives us tremendous confidence,” Warrior coach Mark Hough said. “We’ve really tried to use all aspects of our game, be it small ball, swinging away, hit-and-run. We’re going to do anything that we can to win.”

That was evident in the first inning, when Warwick scored all four of its runs, capitalizing on four walks, an error and two hits that didn’t leave the infield.

After Minney worked a six-pitch free pass leading off, Emily Beale (2-for-3) beat out a bunt single, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch and scored when Wildcat second baseman Logan Opitz made an errant throw on Brubaker’s ground ball.

Minney and Beale flip-flopped in the batting order, forcing Merriman to face a left-right-left-right lineup at the top. And Hough believed that Minney’s “pesky” at-bat might have set an early tone.

“I think it kinda rattled (Merriman) a little bit in the first inning,” Warwick’s coach said.

Merriman was also frustrated by the home-plate umpire’s strike zone, and Marissa Treibley’s walk and Kenzie Stewart’s two-walk swinging bunt base hit loaded the bases. Evie Clugston and Allison Forsythe then worked back-to-back free passes to force home two more runs, making it 4-0.

“That (four-run lead) was so nice,” Minney said. “It took a lot of stress off my back.”

Pitching relaxed, she retired the first four batters she faced. Then Dallastown (15-7) first baseman Bri Rufo walked and scored on Ashton Crump’s (2-for-3) two-out double to center field, cutting Warwick’s lead to 4-1.

“After that double, I was like, ‘OK, maybe I should start buckling down now,’” Minney smiled. “Once something happens, I just get into a zone.”

That was bad news for Dallastown, as the sophomore lefty mowed down the next eight Wildcat batters, with four K’s, before Crump singled with one out in the fifth.

“Her change-up is amazing,” Hough said. “The funniest thing about that change-up is we know it’s coming — we see it and nobody can hit it. It just falls right off the end of the table, so it’s been really fun to watch her throw this year.”

Hough also credited injured senior Julia Forsythe for her expertise in working with Warwick’s battery-mates from the dugout.

“One of our all-stars that hasn’t been recognized this year is Julia,” Hough said. “She’s been calling pitches and charting pitches and really setting up the game plan with Kenzie and Marissa or Lefty. I’ve been extremely proud of what Julia has brought to the team this year.”

Meanwhile, Merriman, who struck out four, walked four and surrendered five hits, settled in after the first inning. The Warriors only had one more base runner in scoring position the rest of the way, that being in the fifth inning, when Peyton Heisey reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second on a Wildcat error.

But Minney and her D were in complete control for the Warriors.

Third baseman Danielle Jones gloved a liner off the bat Merriman leading off the top of the first and then shortstop Treibley grabbed a shot from Allison Hoffman to end the top of the sixth.

“Our defense has really saved us so much,” Hough said. “Everybody’s been stellar.”

First baseman Peyton Heisey included, as she made two put-outs in the bottom of a perfect seventh inning by Minney to close the door.

“It’s really an exciting time for the kids,” Hough said.

***

Last Friday in the District Three 6A quarterfinals, Minney prevailed 1-0 in eight innings in a pitchers duel with Central York’s Bri Smith in Lititz.

The winning rally started in the bottom of the eighth, as Minney singled, and for the second time in the game, advanced to third on Brubaker’s sacrifice.

Jones followed, delivering a walk-off RBI base hit to right-center to end it.

Minney struck out 12, walked just one and scattered four hits in the shutout.

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