After battling for the Susquehanna Division crown during the regular season, the North East and Elkton softball teams will share the field once again with a much bigger reward at stake.
The top-seeded Indians and No. 2 Golden Elks advanced to Wednesday's 2A East Region Section I Final after both teams won their respective playoff contests on Tuesday.
North East (16-3) allowed a grand slam in the second inning and eventually fell behind 9-2, but battled back to stun the Hawks, 12-10.
Abby Riley crushed a grand slam, Maddie Husfelt hit a three-run home run and Jess Choplinsky (double) drove in four runs to power the comeback for the Indians, who saw pitchers Alesia Doctor and Morgan Sargent combine to strike out 11 hitters, but allow 13 hits and one walk.
“We talked about it early in the season about not giving up,” North East head coach Kim Evans said. “Those girls definitely fought hard. That’s a big gap to come back from. The way we finished today, there’s a lot of momentum going into tomorrow.”
Elkton defeated visiting No. 3 Fallston 14-4 in six innings to advance to the section final for the first time since 2011.
Olivia Wheel struck out eight batters over six innings while at the plate, she added two hits, one run and one RBI for Elkton (13-5), which received two hits, including a triple, and four RBIs from Ainsley Jackson.
“I think the team is playing well,” first-year Elkton coach Kim Brown said. “All the girls contribute positively and they motivate each other and work hard every pitch of every game.”
North East swept a pair of regular season meetings between the in-county rivals.
“We have lost to them twice so we have a huge desire to win,” Brown said. “As long as we take the energy that we had from our win against Fallston into our game against North East, we have a great chance of winning.”
The Indians will host Elkton at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Panthers, Eagles postponed again
The Perryville and Bohemia Manor softball teams will have to wait another day for their postseason meeting.
Wet weather and an unplayable field forced the 1A East Region, Section I postseason contest to be delayed again after it was previously wiped out Monday. The top-seeded Eagles will host the No. 4 Panthers at 4 p.m. today, with the winner advancing to the section final against Patterson Mill.
Bo Manor, the reigning two-time 1A State champions, completed two-game sweeps of both Perryville and Patterson Mill during the regular season.
Elsewhere in the state, top-seeded Catoctin (1A West), a favorite to make another deep run in the softball playoffs, fell in the section semifinals on Tuesday, one year after falling to Bo Manor in the state title game.