SPRINGFIELD — One wild finish deserved another at the Vera Shamplain Sports Complex on Wednesday night.
Mosley and Gulf Breeze emerged from two dramatic games with victories at the District 1-5A softball tournament and clinched respective berths at regionals next week. Mosley outlasted Arnold for a 2-1, eight-inning victory, and Gulf Breeze defeated Rutherford 6-5 in stunning fashion in the bottom of the seventh.
The two victors will play tonight for the district championship at 6 p.m. at the same complex.
Mosley 2, Arnold 1
Mosley pitcher Katie Lopes overpowered Arnold’s offense and finished with 17 strikeouts, but the Dolphins (14-6) were unable to gain control of the game until the contest’s final play.
Two walks and an error loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth with the score knotted at 1-all. Meagan Gray's groundball up the middle was misplayed, however, and that allowed Lopes to cross home plate with the winning run.
“We knew it would be a good game because Arnold is a very good team,” said Lopes, who pitched all eight innings and limited the Marlins to three hits.
Lopes nearly was unhittable. Arnold batters couldn’t lay off of her rise ball, and Lopes struck out the side in three innings and amassed at least one strikeout in all eight. She held the final six batters in Arnold’s lineup to a combined 0-for-18 performance.
“It’s a strikeout pitch,” she said. “I have to get ahead in the count to throw it.”
Arnold’s Sarah Robertson singled up the middle with two outs in the first and proceeded to steal second base. A throwing error on Miranda Smith’s grounder allowed Robertson to score as the Marlins seized an early 1-0 lead.
A strange play involving an umpire set the stage for Mosley to even the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the third. Mari Irving grounded the ball to first, but the throw to the second baseman was delayed a moment as the umpire appeared to impede it. The umpire fell to the ground as he tried to step out of the way, and the throw ended up sailing down the right-field line. That put runners on second and third, and Graysen Gladden’s run-scoring groundout drove in Gray with the tying run.
Arnold pitcher Emily Sowell did not put up Lopes’ gaudy totals, but she thwarted Mosley’s offense and prevented the Dolphins from stringing together any big innings. Sowell, who gave up only five hits, pitched out of trouble in the sixth, stranding Mosley base runners at second and third to end the inning.
Laney Haynes was 2 for 3 for Mosley and was the only player in the game with multiple hits.
Robertson reached base three times for the Marlins (18-7). She was walked twice intentionally.
Arnold 100 000 00 — 1 3 4
Mosley 001 000 01 — 2 5 3
Sowell (L) and Gerkin; Lopes (W) and Irving.
Gulf Breeze 6, Rutherford 5
Rutherford’s remarkable two-run rally in the top of the seventh inning tied the game at 5-5, but Gulf Breeze collected itself and earned the win in the bottom half of the inning with heads-up running by Kalee Bogan and Emily Arnold.
Arnold stepped to the plate for Gulf Breeze (11-11) with two outs, and she swung and missed at a wild pitch for strike three. The ball rolled to the backstop, and Arnold outran the throw to first and was safe. Bogan, who had reached base via a two-out walk, never stopped running on the play and beat the ensuing throw home on the play to lift the Dolphins to the victory.
The Rams (11-10) scored unearned runs in each of the first three innings to build a 3-1 lead, but defensive miscues undermined their effort. An error with two outs in the fifth allowed Sydney Ezelle to reach second base, and Dolphin teammate Olivia Printiss followed with an RBI single to pull Gulf Breeze within 3-2.
Arnold’s two-run homer to left-center field in the sixth gave Gulf Breeze a 4-3 lead. Emily Lively doubled, and Paige VanTassel singled two batters later to put the Dolphins on top 5-3.
Taylor Todd flared a one-out single to right field in the top of the seventh for Rutherford. One out later, Alexis Connatser eked out an infield single to put runners on first and second. Shay Potter walked to load the bases, and Taylor Leahy and Savanna Boyette each walked in the ensuing two at-bats to tie the game at 5-5.
For Rutherford, Connatser finished 3 for 4 and laced an RBI single in the third. Leahy had an RBI single in the second. Abbie Barron doubled and scored in the first.
VanTassel was 2 for 4 for the Dolphins.
Rutherford 111 000 2 — 5 8 3
Gulf Breeze 100 013 1 — 6 6 5
Barron (L) and Pledger; Printiss (W) and Martin.