Maybe it is the slogans.
When Loyalsock captured the 2008 Class AA state championship, its rallying cry was "no weak links." No area team went back to states until Warrior Run broke through this season and captured its first district title. And these Defenders have their own catchy slogan.
They call it passing the bat.
Basically it means once one player starts hitting, all the Defenders do and that has been the case all season. It happened again last Thursday as Warrior Run strung three straight hits together and scored two fourth-inning runs while beating District 1 power Christopher Dock, 2-1 in the state quarterfinals.
"As soon as we started hitting her we just kept passing the bat down," said third baseman Devin Nicholas, who ignited the rally with a lead-off double. "It just kept going on from there."
Passing the bat is a big reason Warrior Run is making history and is a win away from the state final. The Defenders (23-2) meet District 2 champion Nanticoke Monday at Bloomsburg University in the Eastern Region championship.
Everyone in the lineup and on the bench has come through at key times in big games and Warrior Run has won more games than any other in program history while also capturing its first district and league championships.
Actually, this group has completely overhauled the program's image. Before it arrived three years ago, the Defenders had little history of which to speak and had not reached districts since 2001. Now they are one of the state's four best teams and have continued passing the bat in win after win.
"As soon as one person hits it starts avalanching from there," Nicholas said.
It happened in the district final against Mifflinburg when Jackie Clemens, Katy Swartz, Lynn Vermilya and Carra Rishel delivered four straight hits in a two-run fourth inning that paved the way for a 2-0 victory over the only team that has beaten it. It happened again against Christopher Dock ace Keli Krause, a senior who had thrown two straight no-hitters. Nicholas and Parker doubled before Clemens made it 2-0 with a RBI single.
No matter the opponent, no matter the situation, these girls believe whoever they pass the bat to will deliver something good. Twenty-three times this season they have been right.
"The girls have worked hard. We've been battle-tested," Warrior Run coach Garth Watson said. "We've played some good teams at home and in the conference and stuff with (Mifflinburg's) Ali (Lloyd) in the league and with (Milton's Kristi) Weaver and things like that and they move the ball around and it prepared them (Thursday)."
GOOD ADVICE: Parker has established herself as one of the state's premier players and her offseason work has been instrumental to that success. Like South Williamsport's Tierney Pfirman in basketball, Parker spent last summer playing softball around the Philadelphia area. District 1 is one of the state's best, especially at the Class AAAA level, so Parker constantly was challenged against elite competition.
And what she learned while playing there might have helped Warrior Run beat Christopher Dock.
Parker had faced Krause last summer and knew what the pitcher liked to do. That allowed her to give her teammates a good scouting report entering Thursday's game. Krause opened the game with three perfect innings, but the Defenders broke through in the fourth and beat a team that had eight starters back from last year's state semifinalist.
"Some of these girls they've (CD) played against are her (Parker's) friends and they have played against them too throughout the year," Watson said. "Tay knows some of these girls on this Bristol team and we got some information from them because they beat (CD) twice."
Parker also used her scouting report to her advantage on the mound. She knew how to handle a potent lineup that had produced 34 runs in its last three games and had two players with more than 100 career hits. The junior threw a spectacular one-hitter and struck out seven while taking a perfect game into the fifth inning.
"There are a lot of competitive teams down there and they're really good and it's helping me a lot," Parker said. "I knew I had to keep throwing hard and keep doing my best and not let them hit hard hits in the gappers and I relied on my defense on knocking the ball downs."
EXTRA BASES: Warrior Run has won eight straight games, beating two district champions, two district finalists and seven playoff teams. ... The defense has backed Parker up well, making only three errors in five playoff games, including none against Christopher Dock. ... Clemens, a junior first baseman, is 3 for 6 with two doubles and four RBIs in two state playoff games. ... Parker has allowed only seven hits and one run in games against district champions CD and Milton.