WARMINSTER >> It has been a while since Dock Mennonite has won a District 1 championship in softball — since 2013 to be exact — and the Pioneers’ players and coaches were getting sick of waiting.
Wednesday, Dock ended its four-year drought in beating Springfield-Montco 10-2 at William Tennent to take home the District 1-3A crown and clinch a PIAA playoff berth.
“Finally,” said Dock senior shortstop Jill Bolton. “I’ve waited four years for this moment, it’s taken a long time and it’s a great feeling. It’s awesome to do it with this team, we’re a really young team, so it’s a really great achievement for us.”
For Bolton, the wait extends beyond the softball diamond and onto the field hockey pitch. The four-time Bicentennial Athletic League field hockey MVP had never won districts in any sport, despite qualifying for states in the past, and said a huge weight has been lifted off her shoulders now.
“It’s been a long ride and for me, it’s been long awaited,” she said. “I’m just happy to get it done with this group.”
Bolton made sure to do her part in the victory.
She finished with just one hit on the afternoon, but it was a mammoth three-run shot to center that cleared the fence by at least 10 feet.
Earlier in the game, she hit another bomb to Springfield center fielder Samantha Wynne. That one also looked like it was going to get out but Wynne made a spectacular catch to rob Bolton at the wall and bring it in for an out.
“The first one, she (Wynne) was like standing on the fence and caught it,” said Bolton. “That second one though, I just hit it and knew right away that it was gone.”
It was Springfield that jumped out to an early lead thanks to some shaky command from Dock starter McKenzie Gordon, but it didn’t last long.
After a scoreless first, Gordon walked four batters in the second to bring in a run and put her team behind 1-0 early.
Luckily for her, she’d settle in nicely and go on allow just one more run the entire afternoon, which was plenty good enough to earn the win.
Gordon, a transfer from Spring-Ford in her first year at Dock, says that had she not changed schools, none of this would have been possible.
“I would not be doing this at Spring-Ford, it’s been incredible,” said Gordon. “It’s been a great decision and now we head to states and I’m nervous but in a good way.”
Dock also had good production from the bottom of their order, something that most teams can only dream of. Eight-hole hitter Sam DiLoreto and nine-hole hitter Bri Stoner had a combined 4 hits, including a double and a triple from Stoner, as they drove in three runs and were the catalyst for the offense.
“That’s pretty nice to have those two (DiLoreto and Stoner) doing what they did today,” said Dock head coach Wayne Benner. “They’ve worked really hard and both been doing well for the past half a dozen games. The bottom of our lineup has done more then pull their weight the last few games.”
Early on, it looked as though Springfield may have had Dock’s number, but they couldn’t sustain it for the full seven innings.
Spartans starting pitcher Hannah Sebenick was sharp for the first few innings but once Dock got her timing down she struggled getting batters out.
“She controls herself well out there, she’s just a sophomore,” said Springfield head coach Joshua Ringgold. “It’s just a matter of missing her spots here and there and once that happens, a team like that is going to take advantage of it.”
The Spartans had a tough regular season, battling against Suburban One League teams in higher classifications all year long, but still ended up just one game shy of the PIAA playoffs. With just one senior graduating from this year’s team, they expect deep runs in the district playoffs to become a regular occurrence.
“That tough regular season gets us here, it gets us prepared,” said Ringgold. “Hats off to Dock, they played great, but this was great experience for a team that’s so young and this is my first year as a head coach. Next year we’ll know what to expect and how to get going.”
For Dock, it will eventually look ahead to its matchup with the District 12 champion next Monday and prepare to make a run through the state playoffs.
However, for now the Pioneers just plan on enjoying the biggest victory for the program in quite some time.
DOCK MENNONITE 10, SPRINGFIELD-MONTCO 2
Springfield 010 000 1 — 2 4 2
Dock Mennonite 002 503 X — 10 11 2
WP: McKenzie Gordon (7IP, 2R, 2ER, 4H, 7K, 7BB, 0HBP).
LP: Ryan Foster (6IP, 10R, 8ER, 11H, 2K, 1BB, 0HBP).
2B: Gabrielle Gaskin (S), Bri Stoner (D)
3B: Bri Stoner (D), Kate Strickland (D)
HR: Jill Bolton (D)
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