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May 31—Although they struggled for much of the season, it’s no surprise to see Brandywine Heights and Kutztown in the thick of the championship hunt in the District 3 softball playoffs.

Brandywine and Kutztown each have won nine District 3 titles, behind only the 13 earned by Chambersburg.

Due to a challenging schedule against many larger schools, Brandywine Heights entered the District 3 Tournament with a 12-9 record but as the No. 1 seed in Class 2A.

The Bullets flexed their postseason muscles Thursday with a 9-3 victory over Fairfield to reach the championship game for the fourth straight time and clinch a berth in the PIAA Tournament.

The Bullets (13-9) will face third-seeded Upper Dauphin (13-8) Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Lebanon Valley College trying to capture its 10th district title since 2005.

It is one of five games involving six Berks County teams on Tuesday.

In a Class 5A all-Berks semifinal, 12th-seeded Exeter (12-11) will play at top-seed and two-time defending champion Twin Valley (20-1) at 2 p.m., third-seeded Hamburg (19-3) will host seventh-seeded Eastern York (14-5) in a Class 4A semifinal at 1:30 p.m., seventh-seeded Kutztown (9-13) will visit third-seeded Pequea Valley (13-4) at 1:30 for a 3A semifinal, and fourth-seeded Daniel Boone (17-4) will host No. 9 Shippensburg (16-6) in a 5A elimination game at 4:30 p.m.

Brandywine was the District 3 and PIAA Class 2A runner-up in 2019 after entering the District 3 Tournament with an 11-9 record.

Three starters — second baseman Naomi Fay, pitcher Meghann Schuster and center fielder A’nayah Jones — are back from that team. Fay (catcher) and Schuster (outfielder) were in different positions that season.

Brandywine Heights and Upper Dauphin each won District 3 titles in 2018 when Brandywine won in Class 3A and Upper Dauphin won in 2A.

With Brandywine dropping to Class 2A in 2019, Kutztown captured the 3A title. The Cougars weren’t figured to be much of a threat this season when they entered the tournament with an 8-13 record.

Much like Brandywine, Kutztown played a challenging schedule against several larger schools. But the Cougars put it all together in a 6-3 win on the road against second-seeded Littlestown.

The Cougars still need one more win to reach the championship game and clinch a berth in the PIAA Tournament.

Kutztown will face a Pequea Valley team that split four games against Berks opponents. The Braves defeated Oley Valley and Fleetwood and lost to Hamburg and Brandywine.

Twin Valley and Exeter are no strangers. Twin Valley defeated Exeter 13-0 at Reiffton on April 13.

But before the Raiders get too comfortable with that fact, all they need to do is look at what the Eagles did last week in the quarterfinals. After losing twice during the regular season to Daniel Boone, the second time by an 11-1 count at home, Exeter went on the road and downed Daniel Boone 15-1.

Twin Valley is riding the hot arm of senior pitcher Sofia Palyan, who threw a no-hitter Thursday in a 6-0 win over Shippensburg. With Palyan in the circle, the Berks champion Raiders have allowed only two runs in five postseason games.

Twin Valley and Exeter already have clinched state playoff berths.

Hamburg is riding the pitching and hitting of senior Haley Gravish. Two of the Hawks’ three losses this season were to Twin Valley.

The Hawks got another home game when Eastern York upset No. 2 seed Kennard-Dale in the quarterfinals.

The winner will advance to Thursday’s championship game and earn a state playoff berth. The loser will meet the loser of the East Pennsboro at Bishop McDevitt game on Thursday to determine the district’s third and final state qualifier in Class 4A.