Freshman Nikki Michalowski pitched a three-hitter Monday but walks came back to haunt her as Archbishop Ryan's debut in the PIAA Class AAAA softball playoffs was spoiled by a 4-1 loss to New Oxford at Temple's Ambler Campus.

Michalowski issued eight walks, and three of those batters scored.

New Oxford senior Caroline Brehm scattered four hits and chalked up 10 strikeouts while handing out only two walks.

"We knew she was a good pitcher, but we were too anxious early," said Ragdolls coach Andy Hafele. "We were helping her out. We didn't get our bunts down, they did."

He was referring to the fact that Ryan (18-6), the top qualifier in District 12, had a big opportunity to score in the second inning - one out, bases loaded - but only scored one run. In the third inning, the Ragdolls got a runner to third base with one out and failed to score.

It was the first state playoff win for New Oxford (23-4), the second-place team from District 3. The Colonials won the district championship in 1999 but lost their first-round state playoff game to Central Dauphin, the same school that beat them for the district title this season.

On Thursday, New Oxford will face Neshaminy, the third place team from District 1, which knocked off District 11 champ Easton, 12-0, in Monday's first-round game.

"We have two pitchers, but Caroline has pitched all of our playoff games," said Colonials coach Ken Shafer. "We didn't know too much about Ryan coming into the game. I told the kids that all the teams here now are good."

Knowing little about the Ragdolls didn't seem to bother Brehm, whose sister Rebecca is the Colonials catcher. Both are headed to McDaniel College (Maryland) in the fall.

"The umpire had a big corner - low and inside," Caroline Brehm said, "so I tried to take advantage of it."

New Oxford scored its first run without a hit. Caroline Brehm walked to lead off the second inning, then later scored on Justine Hartlaub's sacrifice fly. Ryan tied it in its half of the inning on a hit batter with the bases loaded.

New Oxford took the lead again, 2-1, in the fourth when it scored without benefit of a hit again. This time Rebecca Brehm scored thanks to a walk and a couple of wild pitches.

A two-run seventh inning, thanks to a couple of errors by Ryan, insured the win.

"I think we lost our focus in that last inning," Forward said. "We also got frustrated by some umpire calls."

She was called out in the sixth when the plate umpire ruled a two-strike pitch hit her bat and went directly into the catcher's glove. Forward said the ball hit her forearm.

New Oxford. . . 010 100 2 - 4 3 0

Archbishop Ryan. . . 010 000 0 - 1 4 2

WP: Caroline Brehm. LP: Nikki Michalowski. 2B: AR-Heather Forward.

Contact staff writer Don Beideman at 267-815-0733 or dbeideman@phillynews.com.