Last season’s YAIAA Division I softball race was a tight one between Central York and Dallastown. Chances are, the rivals will be at it again. In fact, the whole division is loaded. Here’s a division-by-division look at the YAIAA in softball:
1. Central York
3. New Oxford
4. Delone Catholic
5. Red Lion
Division I breakdown
• Central York (21-6, 11-2) will return YAIAA Division I Player of the Year Taylor Rohrbaugh and first-team all-star shortstop Jordyn Miller.
• Dallastown (19-5, 10-3) just missed winning the division title but has the majority of its team back. The Wildcats regrouped from finishing second in the division by getting to the District 3 Class AAAA final. Kelsey Collins is back and has more than 350 career strikeouts. First baseman Kayla Merriman led the YAIAA in RBIs, while catcher Sam Hartman, shortstop Amanda Jones and third baseman Jenna Eckenrode all hit .400 last year.
• New Oxford (13-9, 7-6) has some quality senior leadership in first baseman Lindsey Miller and shortstop Sarah Groft. Nicole Ayers, a senior, will take the pitcher’s circle on most days, while sophomore Kendra Becker will anchor the outfield in center.
• Red Lion (9-7, 6-4) did not graduate a senior last season. The returning core includes All-YAIAA players Alexa Taylor, Hailey Orwig and Ali Posey.
• South Western (7-12, 4-9) did not win a Division I game last season, which could be trouble consider what is back in the division. The Mustangs, however, should have one of their best offensive teams in coach Megan Pilarcik’s four seasons. That offense includes senior catcher Taylor Leonard, junior third baseman Heather Dell, junior infielder/outfielder Kirsten Hertzog, junior infielder Danni Savino and sophomore Jordan Chell. The pitching will be young with freshmen and sophomores.
Division II breakdown
• Dover (7-14, 1-12) will look to replace shortstop Katie Diehl, who led the division in batting average, hits and RBIs.
• Northeastern (8-13, 3-10) fared better in non-league play than in the YAIAA last season. The Bobcats will be young, keyed by switch-hitting sophomore catcher Katelynn Reed. Three returning seniors include outfielder Sam Gordineer, infielder Natalee Brown and Shannon Dolan.
• Spring Grove (14-8, 10-2) must replace seven graduated players and longtime assistant Bill Elgin. What fifth-year coach Mark Hull does have back are senior shortstop Amy Bentley, junior pitcher Jenna Jacoby and sophomore outfielder Hayley Norton. Bentley and Norton were all-league performers last season.
• Susquehannock (11-9, 8-6) moves up from Division III. The Warriors return sophomore All-YAIAA infielder Maddie Shockey, who hit .411 with 23 hits, six doubles and a home run.
• York Suburban (3-16, 3-11) was last in Division III a year ago and now must move up a division. Sophomore pitcher Emmy Turybury is back to help that transition. She also was a standout hitter, batting .458 with 17 RBIs and 14 runs.
Division III breakdown
• Bermudian Springs (10-11, 9-5) will experience a theme other sports have went through this season at the school: trying to replace standout athlete Paige Dennison, who graduated a year ago.
• Eastern York (10-9, 9-5) returns junior catcher Erin Kalke, who hit .438 with five doubles, and sophomore shortstop Lauren Reichard, who hit .570 with 37 hits. Both were all-stars.
• Kennard-Dale (10-9, 8-5) moves down from Division II and is now without graduated player of the year Desi Joines, a pitcher now at Shepherd University. Junior all-star third baseman Julia D’Arrigo is back after hitting .430 with 18 runs, five doubles and four triples.
• Littlestown (13-7, 12-2) lost key players, such as shortstop Sam Butt and player-of-the-year catcher Skye Ripple, from last season’s division championship team. Returning letterwinners include senior left fielder Casey Saylor, senior shortstop Nicole Snider, junior first baseman Caitlin Price, junior third baseman Cheyanne White and sophomore pitcher Ali Schroeder.
• West York (3-15, 2-11) returns 11 players with varsity experience. Seven of those players are returning starters for 15th-year coach David Beard. The Bulldogs played in Division II last season.
Division IV breakdown
• Biglerville (6-12, 6-9) will enter this season without last year’s top hitter, Nikki Bowmaster, who batted .650.
• Delone Catholic (11-5, 11-3) returns co-player of the year Deanna Laughman, who as a sophomore hit .573 with 44 runs. Catcher Casara McCleaf also returns for the defending division champs, who have six starters back.
• Hanover (7-12, 6-9) lost catcher Bradi Hill, but will return five keys players who are juniors or sophomores. Plus, the Nighthawks add freshman pitcher Sara Durika, who could take the circle with sophomore Ashley Lawson. Lauren Smith also is back after making the Division IV first-team all-stars as a freshman. She plays first and third base.
• York Catholic returns junior pitcher/infielder Carrie Fix and six other starters from a 4-17 team. The Fighting Irish should improve on that record.
• York County Tech (8-10, 8-7) looks to get back in the division title race and could do so with catcher Danielle Aikins, first baseman Cheyenne Fulcher and left fielder Savannah Grimes among those back. Coach Terry Wallace is not, however, giving way to Don Bryant, who coached from 2003-2006.