CARPET BURN — New Oxford’s Autumn Lehigh slides safely into home plate as Bermudian Springs’ pitcher Tori Murren covers during Thursday’s game in York Springs. The surging Colonials won, 9-2, to close in on a District 3 playoff bid.

Through two must-win games this week, New Oxford has looked the part of a playoff team. After a brief waiting period Thursday, the numbers agreed with the eye test.

New Oxford entered the week with two chances at climbing into the District 3 Class 5A playoff bracket, and the Colonials delivered victories both times. The latter of those wins came Thursday, when Courtney Smith and Paige Dill threw a combined one-hitter to lead the Ox to a 9-2 victory over Bermudian Springs in a YAIAA crossover game at Bermudian Springs High School.

The win pushed the Colonials from the No. 17 spot in the district power rankings to No. 15. While the rankings remained unofficial Thursday evening, it appeared as if the Ox’s effort had indeed been sufficient to earn a spot in the 16-team field.

“We went into this week with the mindset that if we give it our all, we can do it,” Smith said. “Yes, we’ve struggled at times, but we’ve never gotten down on ourselves. We’ve hung with every team we’ve played so far. We just went out there today and hit the ball hard and cheered everyone on.”

Smith was a catalyst both in the circle and at the plate for the Ox, which had to rally from an early deficit. The Colonials committed a pair of two-out errors that brought in two unearned runs for the Eagles.

The Ox at first slowly chipped away at the deficit, and then later came in waves. Their first run was the result of a funky sequence in the second inning, started by Autumn Lehigh reaching first on catcher’s interference and then later scoring via wild pitch. The tying run came in more conventional fashion: Jordan Hess smoked a liner over the leftfield fence in the third to knot it at 2-2.

“We came through,” New Oxford coach Vincent Hall said. “We made some mistakes early, gave up some runs early, but we didn’t let it get to us. We made up for it at the plate and throwing the ball.”

While the offense heated up, Smith and Dill combined to keep the Eagles off the board. Smith allowed just one runner into scoring position after the first inning, and Dill entered in the fifth and retired all nine batters she faced in order.

“Paige has more a little more speed than me, so when they start to get my timing, we put Paige in to finish it out,” Smith said. “I think, because we throw different speeds and throw a different mix of pitches, it forces them to start all over again once they’ve started to get the hang of things. It’s been a really good strategy for us.”

The run support came in the fifth and sixth innings, when the Colonials combined for seven runs. Jordan Hess, Alyssa Walters and Smith tallied consecutive singles in the fifth, with Smith’s bringing home a pair of runs as part of a three-run frame. In the four-run sixth, the Colonials took full advantage of dropped third strike to buy an extra out. Mallory Topper would double and score, and Walters (RBI single) and Smith (two-run double) again provided the punch.

Hess, Walters and Smith each had two-hit days for the Colonials. The Eagles’ lone hit was a third-inning double by Maddie Reever. Bermudian only struck out twice on the day, but hard contact was elusive against Smith and Dill.

“We just have to string some hits together,” Bermudian coach Eddie Kennell said. “We’re putting the bat on the ball, but a lot of the times it’s pop-ups or weak contact. When we do hit one like (Hannah Chenault) did tonight, she smoked one right to the third baseman. Those are rally-stoppers. But we had at least two innings were there were five- or six-pitch innings for them.”

Bermudian entered the day already assured of a spot in the eight-team District 3 Class 3A field. The Eagles, at No. 5, will likely draw a first-round matchup with No. 4 Lancaster Catholic.

New Oxford 011 034 0 — 9 8 2

Bermudian Springs 200 000 0 — 2 1 2

Courtney Smith, Paige Dill (5) and Ellie Widerman. Tori Murren, Abbie Myers (6) and Maddie Stephens. WP: Smith. LP: Murren. SO-BB: Smith 1-1, Dill 1-0, Murren 4-1, Myers 0-0. 2B: New Oxford, Courtney Smith, Mallory Topper; Bermudian Springs, Hannah Chenault. HR: New Oxford, Jordan Hess.

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