Mitchell delivers in ‘clutch moment’ as Hawks advance to sotball regional finals
Viera High softball players celebrate after Karyana Mitchell (second from left) hit a three-run home run in the top of the sixth to propel the Hawks to a 5-2 victory over Deltona in the Class 7A regional semifinals.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
DELTONA -- Karyana Mitchell started running up the first baseline, her head turned toward left field where the softball the Viera High sophomore had just launched was jetting deeper and deeper into the night sky.
Could it be?
Her Viera High teammates sure thought so. In fact, Taylor Jensen was already jumping for joy.
“I actually looked up and (wondered), ‘Why is everybody shouting?’” Mitchell said. “I looked up and … it was out. I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’”
Mitchell’s three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning proved to be the difference for the Viera Hawks Tuesday night, as they rallied for a 5-2 victory over the host Deltona Wolves in a thrill Class 7A regional semifinal.
The victory puts Viera (25-1) into the Region 2 finals Friday night against Tampa Chamberlain (23-7) at 7 p.m. at the USSSA Space Coast Complex.
The Hawks will be seeking their first trip the state final four, and it will mark their fifth regional final.
“Heck of a game,” Viera coach Alex Breeden said after the win over Deltona.
“It wasn’t perfect. They didn’t play a perfect game. But we don’t ask them to play perfect. We ask them to compete, and they did that. They showed a lot of heart, they never gave up, and in the end, we came out on top.”
In addition to her big home run, the Hawks got a solid night on the mound from Mitchell, who gave up seven hits and struck out four against a Deltona lineup that had scored 280 runs coming into Tuesday night’s game (Viera had scored 240).
The Hawks also got some tremendous defense from Madison Headley in center field, Corrin Flajole in right field, Zoie Hatley at short, Jensen behind the plate, Morgan Mordas at third, Kelly Bishop at second, Taryn Aebli in left and Brianna Hatley at first base.
What the Hawks didn’t get … at least until the sixth inning … were the big hits that could have made the game a little less dramatic.
Headley led off the first with a walk, stole second and eventually scored on a single by Jensen to give Viera a 1-0 lead. But the Hawks left the bases loaded in that inning and subsequently missed out on several other scoring chances throughout the game.
Deltona, meanwhile, had several of its scoring threats foiled by Mitchell’s pitching, and Viera’s defense.
That is until the bottom of the fourth inning. After a lead-off double was followed by tremendous catches by Jensen on a foul-pop near the backstop and by Flajole in right field, the Wolves came through with an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.
An inning later, Deltona (24-3) put the first two runners on base and scored the go-ahead run on a rare Viera throwing error.
As the Hawks came off the field following the bottom of the fifth, the players gathered together for a team meeting – as they do after every inning.
Jensen told her teammates they were going to score some runs.
And while there were just two at-bats left for Viera, Breeden was still confident.
“That’s what we preach to them – having quality at-bats and trusting the process,” Breeden said. “We were having quality at-bats all night. We were trusting it. So eventually, it was going to come. And it did. It came at the right time.”
Bishop led off the top of the sixth inning with a single and when Brianna Hatley’s bunt was misplayed by the Deltona defense, the Hawks had runners on first and second with no outs.
Mordas then singled and Bishop raced for home plate. She was initially ruled out, but then declared safe when Deltona’s catcher was called for obstructing the pate.
That tied the game at 2-2, and one out later, Mitchell came to the plate with two runners on.
“I was just thinking I need to do this for my team … and I just wanted to be in that clutch moment,” Mitchell said.
And clutch, she was.
After another big catch by Headley in center field wiped out what could have been a big hit for Deltona in the bottom of the seventh, the Hawks put the finishing touches on a victory that has brought them, once again, to the doorstep of the final four.
This is not time to be polite. Just kick that sucker in.