Here’s a look at next season’s top softball teams in another way-too-early preseason guide:
1. Central York (20-3, 11-2 YAIAA Division I): As alluded above, the Panthers will return most of their starters, excluding graduated shortstop Jordyn Miller. Player of the year Taylor Rohrbaugh will be back to throw heat and mash from the plate. Central had five first-team all-stars, and four will return.
2. Delone Catholic (18-2, 15-0 D-IV): Talk about loaded, the Squirettes returned the division’s top player from a year ago. What happened? An incoming freshman was voted player of the year this year. They both will be back next year when third baseman Deanna Laughman is a senior and pitcher Cassie Rickrode becomes a sophomore.
3. Spring Grove (13-8, 10-3 D-III): Hayley Norton and Jenna Jacoby will be back to lead the Division III champs. Norton can do just about anything, offensively and defensively from the outfield, while Jacoby is a steadily improving pitcher. They should get a strong push from Susquehannock.
4. Susquehannock (10-8, 6-6 D-III): Speaking of the Warriors, this was a young club for coach Don Mercadante in 2013. He will return senior first baseman Megan Rogers and sophomore shortstop Mallory Lebo, among others.
5. Dallastown (13-4, 9-4 D-I): A tough season for the Wildcats this year, injuries hurt them — specifically losing pitcher Kelsey Collins. When they had her, they mercy-ruled Central York. The Panthers completely turned around against them without her. Catcher Sam Hartman and first baseman Kayla Merriman will be back, though. So should the ‘Cats.
6. Kennard-Dale (13-7, 12-1 D-III): With player of the year Julie D’Arrigo set to return to the circle as a senior and Sara Driggers behind the plate, the Rams should be favored to repeat their divisional success.
7. Dover (9-11, 4-9 D-II): The competition in Division II was tougher than it might have seemed. It was the youngest division across the board, whether it’s division champion Spring Grove or last-place York Suburban. All five teams return most of their lineups next year. Only ONE all-star in this division was a senior, too. The Eagles were an example of that youth as they picked up play with the heat, beating another young team, Northeastern, for that schools four-team invitational. Coach of the year Terry Choate’s club might have just scratched the surface.