Going into the York-Adams League softball playoffs, Spring Grove was likely considered the consensus favorite to claim the championship.
The Rockets did nothing on Wednesday to to dispel that notion.
Spring Grove's Hailey Kessinger and Sara Jones combined on a three-hit shutout to lead the Division I champion Rockets to a 9-0 triumph over Division III champion Littlestown in a semifinal game at New Oxford High School.
Spring Grove will return to New Oxford at 5 p.m. Thursday to battle Delone for the league playoff crown. Division IV champion Delone rallied for a 4-3 win over Division II champion Eastern York in the other Y-A semifinal at Susquehannock.
Both teams will enter the title game on a roll. Spring Grove has won 11 straight, while Delone has won five straight.
Kessinger has been dominant all season in the circle for Spring Grove (19-1) and Wednesday was no different. In five innings, she gave up two hits and two walks, while striking out nine.
Jones gave up one hit over the final two innings.
The Rockets' offense, meanwhile, pounded out 12 hits, paced by a three-hit, three-RBI, three-run performance from Olivia Lillich. One of Lillich's hits was a triple.
Hannah Gartrell (two doubles, three RBIs, run), Bryn Sporer (two hits, double, RBI, run), Chloe Sullivan (two hits, RBI, run), Kessinger (two hits) and Bailey Rapson (double) also excelled at the plate for Spring Grove.
Bailey Smith had two of Littlestown's three hits. The Lady Bolts fell to 16-5.
Delone advances: Delone, meanwhile, had a much more challenging battle than Spring Grove, but the end result was the same — a victory.
The Squirettes (17-3) scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to grab the win.
Eastern (11-7) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, but that was all the Golden Knights could muster against Delone starting pitcher Maggie Rickrode, who went the distance. Rickrode allowed four hits and six walks, while striking out five.
Eastern starter Maelynn Leber also went the distance, allowing nine hits and a walk, while fanning nine. Leber was hurt by a pair of Golden Knights errors that led to two unearned runs in the pivotal sixth. Delone also scored twice in the bottom of the first.
Katie Ernst led the Squirettes' offense, going 2 for 3 with one run scored and one RBI. Also for Delone, Rickrode went 2 for 3 with one RBI and Alma Partenza went 2 for 3.
For the Golden Knights, Katie Lehman doubled with two RBIs.
Reach Steve Heiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.