Delone Catholic’s Alma Partenza slides safely into home plate as Upper Dauphin Area catcher Kelsey Henninger reaches for the ball during Thursday’s District 3 Class 2A softball semifinal in McSherrystown. The Trojans nipped the Squirettes, 8-7.

The 2021 season didn’t end the way Delone Catholic head coach Matt Rickrode was hoping it would for his Squirettes, as they lost to Upper Dauphin, 8-7, in the semifinals of the District 3 Class 2A softball tournament Thursday afternoon in McSherrystown.

But Rickrode was pleased with the campaign put together by his team that began the year with just three players on the roster who had played high school softball prior to this season.

In addition to hosting a district playoff game, the Squirettes captured the YAIAA-4 title for the ninth consecutive season and they finished the year with an 11-9 record.

“We came a long way since the beginning of the season when we made nine errors and lost to Bermudian, 17-16, in our first game” Rickrode said. “We had very limited experience, but grew as a team and we’re set up to have a really good team next season with having everyone back, except for one player that graduates.”

Upper Dauphin (13-8) jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the top of the first when Faith Anderson singled home Eileen Nestor and Hailey Bursett grounded out to score Abby Koons.

Delone threatened in its half of the first, as the Squirettes had runners on second and third with one down, but couldn’t scratch across a run.

Trojan hurler Maddin Grow induced a pop out and then fanned the next hitter to escape trouble.

Grow wasn’t as lucky in the third when Alma Partenza singled, stole second and took third on a wild pitch with one down. Then Meredith Wilson clobbered Grow’s first offering for a round tripper over the center field fence to even things, 2-2.

In the fourth, Ava Gibson inside-outed a line drive single to right to chase home pinch runner Emily Delbert for the visitors and they carried that lead into the bottom of the fifth.

The fifth saw Delone take the lead with a three-spot, as Partenza went all the way around to third on a throwing error to begin the inning.

She tied the game when Cara Arigo dropped a beauty of a bunt, then Wilson walked on four pitches.

A two-run belt by Kat Keller staked Delone to a 5-3 lead and needing six outs to advance to the district final.

However, the Trojans weren’t about to fold up and go home.

Nestor leveled the contest at 5-5 when she dropped a single into right field that scored Gibson and Shelby Klinger, then a single by Anderson scored Grow to push the visitors back ahead.

They tacked on two additional runs in the frame on wild pitches and led 8-5.

“Our girls did a good job of fighting back to get the lead,” Rickrode said. “(Upper Dauphin) just found some spots with their hits in the sixth.”

UD head coach Robert Ligon said of the game-deciding rally, “We’ve been up and down all season long. We’ve had some good wins and some terrible losses. Today we played well. We got runners on, we got them over and we got them in.”

Delone responded with a two-run rally in the sixth as Partenza doubled home Emma Goddard and Emily Perricone. Partenza was on third with two down for Wilson, but Grow was able to retire her on a groundout to keep the guest ahead.

In the seventh, Grow retired the first two hitters of the inning, but then walked Nicole Brown and allowed a single by Goddard to put Brown at second representing the tying run.

That brought Perricone to the plate and she ripped the first pitch she saw, just foul down the third base line. She grounded out on the next pitch to end it.

“We got a couple runners on and gave ourselves a chance in the seventh,” Rickrode said. “That’s all you can really hope for when you’re behind.”

Partenza and Wilson paced Delone’s six-hit offense with two knocks apiece, while the Trojans’ 11-hit attack was led by three hits from Anderson and a pair each from Grow, Nestor and Gibson.

Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas

Upper Dauphin 200 105 0 — 8 11 2

Delone Catholic 002 032 0 — 7 6 1

Maddin Grow and Kelsey Henninger; Amy Anderson, Alma Partenza (6) and Nicole Brown. SO-BB: Grow 9-5; Anderson 1-4, Partenza 5-0. W-Grow. L-Anderson. 2B: UD-Faith Anderson; DC-Partenza. HR: DC-Meredith Wilson, Kat Keller.

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