Local baseball, softball teams to put seasons on line in District 3 playoffs
It’s do-or-die time on Pennsylvania high school baseball and softball diamonds.
The York-Adams League has advanced 10 baseball teams and 10 softball teams to the PIAA District 3 playoffs, with all squads set to put their seasons on the line in the coming week. District baseball tournaments begin Friday, with softball action starting Monday.
The baseball playoff brackets were officially released Wednesday, and while District 3 has not officially unveiled its softball brackets as of Thursday afternoon, all regular-season games have been accounted for. Wednesday was the final day for contests to count toward rankings, so players and coaches are already preparing for their upcoming foes.
The two-week sprint begins with five local baseball teams on the field Friday. There’s a rivalry clash between Central York and Red Lion. There’s league champion Susquehannock looking to keep its season going against Shippensburg. And both Northeastern and Spring Grove will look to pull off road upsets.
Seven York-Adams softball teams have district playoff games Monday, while three others — including Littlestown, which captured the York-Adams League title in a 1-0 pitchers' duel against South Western — are off until next Thursday. Each path to a district title will look different, but every team will need at least one playoff win to keep its season going.
Here’s the rundown. (All games are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.)
Class 6A first round
No. 9 Red Lion (12-8) at No. 8 Central York (12-8): The Panthers narrowly edged the Lions in the power rankings, but they’ll be looking to reverse the results from the regular season. Red Lion won 12-2 on the road April 5, then completed a regular-season sweep with a 2-1 home triumph May 1. The Lions will lean on the trio of Jason Krieger, AJ Lipscomb and Connor Lawrence both at the plate and on the mound. Central’s offense was inconsistent this season, but Panther pitchers recorded a sub-3.00 ERA. Top-seeded Central Dauphin awaits the winner.
No. 12 Northeastern (11-9) at No. 5 Cedar Cliff (14-6): The Bobcats won their last four games of the season to secure the final spot in this field. A playoff run may require a star turn from senior Owen Wilhide, who posted a 2.33 ERA in 30 innings pitched and led the offense with three home runs. The Colts have won 12 of 14 games after a 2-4 start. The winner will play No. 4-seed Hempfield.
Class 5A first round
No. 14 Shippensburg (11-8) at No. 3 Susquehannock (18-3): The Warriors finished third in this tournament last year, and they’ll lean on their ace pitchers as they seek another deep run. Senior lefty Joey Smith leads the way with a 0.51 ERA in 55 1/3 innings, but Susky has allowed less than one earned run per game across all contests. And the offense has picked up, led by Josh Preston’s .507 average.
No. 12 Spring Grove (11-9) at No. 5 Lampeter-Strasburg (16-7): It’ll be a 7 p.m. first pitch as the Rockets look to upset the Lancaster-Lebanon League tournament runner-up. The Pioneers beat section champions Manheim Central and Hempfield in that run before losing 3-2 in the final against Ephrata. L-S has allowed fewer than three runs per game, and Spring Grove’s offense hit just .224 in the regular season, but junior Nizeah Mummert (.419 average, .609 on-base percentage) could be a difference-maker.
Dallastown (16-5) is the No. 3 seed in the Class 6A bracket and will battle either No. 6 Ephrata or No. 11 Manheim Township. Ephrata enters the tournament with plenty of momentum after its L-L League title, while the Wildcats are just 3-5 in their last eight games after a 13-0 start. Dallastown’s pitching, though, gives the team a shot against anyone.
Three Y-A teams are among the top six seeds in the 4A tournament. Division III champion Bermudian Springs (15-5) is the No. 1 seed and will host either No. 8 Middletown or No. 9 Berks Catholic on Monday. There’s also a cross-divisional rematch, as No. 3 Kennard-Dale (15-4) is set to host No. 6 Hanover (14-6). The Rams beat the Nighthawks 12-0 on March 27 at Hanover and will hope for more of the same at home.
No local squads made the six-team 3A tournament, but Delone Catholic (13-8) will play Monday as the No. 4 seed in the four-team 2A bracket. The defending district champion Squires will have their hands full with top-seeded Halifax, which is 19-2-1 and coming off a Tri-Valley League title. The winner will advance to Thursday’s district final; only the tournament champion advances to states.
Three Division I squads made the Class 6A bracket, all of which will be in action in Monday’s first round. No. 7-seed Dallastown (15-5) should play host to No. 10 Penn Manor, with No. 11 Northeastern (14-6) visiting No. 6 Manheim Township and No. 12 Central York (13-7) traveling to Warwick. The Panthers held off Carlisle for the final spot in the field.
South Western played a memorable league title game against Littlestown and has a big opportunity in the Class 5A tournament. The No. 3-seed Mustangs (19-2) expect to host No. 14 Palmyra on Monday. Two D-II squads are double-digit seeds, with No. 11 Susquehannock (12-8) set to visit Greencastle-Antrim and No. 13 New Oxford (11-9) taking on Donegal.
Eastern York played its way into the Class 4A field with wins Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The closing stretch, which included four straight victories in total, brought the Golden Knights (13-6) to No. 9 in the power rankings. They’ll visit No. 8-seed Middletown on Monday, with No. 1 East Pennsboro awaiting the winner.
Littlestown, the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A tournament, will take the field next Thursday against either No. 4 Upper Dauphin or No. 5 Annville-Cleona. The Bolts (21-1) will need just one victory to secure their spot in the state tournament, although they’d surely like to add a district title to their brilliant season on May 30.
Division IV co-champions Delone Catholic (14-6) and Fairfield (13-4) are the No. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively, in the Class 2A tournament. Both expect to play home games next Thursday, with the Squirettes hosting No. 4 Newport and the Green Knights welcoming No. 3 Brandywine Heights. Should the teams meet again May 30, they’ll play not only for the district title but also for the lone available state tournament berth.