LYNN HAVEN — It doesn’t matter where you hit in the lineup as long as you produce when it’s your turn to deliver.
Kristen Hutto, batting in the No. 9 hole for Mosley, provided her team’s biggest hit of the day with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning that lifted the Dolphins to a 3-1 home win over Wakulla in the Region 1-5A softball semifinals on Saturday.
Mosley (17-6) will travel to play undefeated Ponte Vedra on Monday in the regional finals with a berth in the Class 5A state semifinals at stake. Dolphins coach Brian Wilke said he was going to lobby for a 6 p.m. CDT start.
“It means a lot,” Hutto said of the opportunity awaiting Mosley. “I’ve never been to the Elite Eight before.”
Katie Lopes led off the fourth with a bloop single to left field, and courtesy runner Taylor Register advanced to second when Mackenzie Johnson was hit by a pitch. Wakulla hurler Meghan Sarvis was on the verge of escaping the inning unharmed, but Hutto poked a single to left field to allow Register and Johnson to score for a 3-1 advantage.
Hutto shares hitting duties with Mari Irving at the back end of the batting order, and she now has reached base five times in her last two games.
“We have to see who’s on base and know our runners,” Hutto said. “When we know our runners, then we have to know where to hit it.”
Added Wilke: “Right now she’s the hot bat. That base hit wasn’t the prettiest thing, but she put it in a good spot.”
Lopes, who pitched a complete game and struck out 11, did not allow a runner beyond second base in the final three innings to close out the Dolphins’ victory. She scattered four hits and did not walk a batter.
Lopes was dominant after giving up a solo homer to Wakulla’s Michael Cooper in the first inning that gave the War Eagles (10-16) a quick 1-0 lead. Cooper and Lopes both have committed to Thomas University in Thomasville, Ga.
“Katie pitched well, but she missed a couple spots early,” Wilke said. “Michael is going to the same school as her, and I’ve seen her play. Katie hung a curve ball, and that’s where it goes against a player like that. At this time of year, if you make a mistake teams will make you pay for it.”
Ponte Vedra is 28-0 this year, but don’t expect the Dolphins to be intimidated. Wilke noted that Mosley played at Niceville in the regional tournament last year and posted a road win against a team that entered that matchup 26-1 and the third-ranked team in the nation.
“The pressure is on them. That’s the way I look at it,” Wilke said. “If any group can do it, it’s this group.”
Laney Haynes, whose RBI single in the first inning drove in Kiana Yangson with the game-tying run, said the Dolphins will embrace their role as the underdog.
“It’s their home crowd and their home territory,” she said. “We have nothing to lose. It helps that going into this game we know what the atmosphere is like at Niceville and (will be) at Ponte Vedra.”
Hutto added: “We need to keep our head in the game and just keep doing what we’ve been doing. We have to play like we know how to play and not change anything.”
Wakulla 100 000 0 — 1 4 0
Mosley 100 200 x — 3 7 1
Sarvis (L) and Winkler; Lopes (W) and Irving.