HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL

Roundup: Columbia nips Mosley to win regional final


Columbia players pose with their regional final trophy after beating Lynn Haven Mosley in Lake City on Sunday. (Submitted photo)

Published: Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 10:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 10:36 p.m.

LAKE CITY — With a state softball final four berth on the line Sunday, Columbia High School center fielder Brandy Morgan stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with a plan.

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Columbia advances to the Class 6A state semifinals against Bradenton Lakewood Ranch Friday in Vero Beach.

“I was looking for a pitch inside,” Morgan said. “Just something I could drive.”

With runners on first and third, Morgan found her pitch, lacing a game-winning RBI hit down the third base line to lift Columbia to a 2-1 win over Lynn Haven Mosley in the Class 6A, Region 1 final.

Columbia (26-4) kept its dream season alive and will move on to the Class 6A state semifinal on Friday afternoon in Vero Beach against Bradenton Lakewood Ranch.

“Last year, we struggled, but this year we have a bond, like sisters,” Morgan said. “We love each other and come together when we need it the most.”

With the score tied at 1, Caleigh McCauley led off the seventh with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice. Columbia followed with a strikeout and a walk, setting up Morgan's heroics. Morgan had been 0 for 3 with two strikeouts before the game-winning hit off Mosley starter Katie Lopes.

“I never let myself get down,” Morgan said. “A lot of what you do in the past doesn't have anything to do with what you do next.”

It was another close, comeback win for the Tigers. Mosley (21-8) took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning on a bases loaded walk by Selena Estrada, but failed to cash in on other opportunities. Mosley leadoff batter Graysen Gladden left early from third on what could have been a sacrifice fly in the third inning, costing the Dolphins an early run. Mosley also had a run taken away on a questionable base-runner interference call in the sixth.

Lopes cruised through the first five innings, befuddling Columbia on a mix of fastballs, change-ups and rise balls. But after holding Columbia scoreless through the first five innings, Lopes finally ran into trouble in the sixth. Lacey King led off the inning with a bunt single, moved to second on a walk and eventually scored on an RBI single from Tatum Morgan that glanced off the glove of Mosley left fielder Kinzie Harrington.

Columbia starting pitcher Erin Anderson lasted just 2.2 innings due to a jammed finger, but Ashley Shoup earned the win in relief. Columbia turned a pair of key double plays behind Shoup to keep Mosley from putting together big innings. With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Columbia first baseman Brittany Morgan stabbed a line drive and stepped on the bag for an unassisted double play.

“Credit our defense,” Columbia coach Jimmy Williams said. “That's what helped us stay in the game.”

Williams had a sign put up in the locker room in the beginning of the season which read “Why Not Us.” He had a feeling that this season's softball team had the potential to be special.

“They pull for each other,” Williams said. “On any given night, any one of them have the ability to win the game. Tonight it was Brandy. They believe in each other. It's the best softball team I've ever coached.”

Class 5A regional finals: Suwannee 8, Ponte Vedra 2: At Ponte Vedra Beach, Suwannee handled Ponte Vedra, a state semifinalist a year ago, 8-2 in the Class 5A regional finals.

Audre Bryant was a big reason for the win. The Bulldogs' (17-9) pitcher was stellar in the circle, confounding a Ponte Vedra side that had scored eight runs in each of its previous two regional games. Bryant finished the game with eight strikeouts and gave up only two hits through the first six innings, six hits throughout the game.

Offensively, the Suwannee couldn't do much wrong. They struck first with a solo home run in the first inning. The lion's share of Suwannee's scoring came in the third, four runs scoring on five hits. Shayla Kicklighter hit a 2-RBI single to score Kaityln Rogers and Jessie TenBroeck, and Haejin Choe hit a shot that fell along the warning track in left-center field to score another two.

— Austen Gregerson

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