Hawks heading to regional final after 2-1 win over Melbourne


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Members of the Viera High softball team react after second baseman Anna Brait (center) catches a pop up for the final out in Wedesday's Class 7A regional semifinal game against Melbourne. Viera won 2-1 to advance to Friday's regional final against Lake Region.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

One step closer.

The Viera High softball team came into the season with a goal of getting back to the state final four and winning the Class 7A state championship.

Well, after beating arch-rival Melbourne 2-1 Wednesday night in the regional semifinals, the Hawks are getting closer and closer to making that goal a reality.

Viera (20-7) will go on the road to play Lake Region (19-9) in the regional final Friday night at 7. The winner will move onto the final four.

“It was a tremendous effort by our girls,” Viera coach Alex Breeden said. “They showed their heart. Melbourne had four hits. We had one. We squared up at least 10 balls. With that, you could go one of two ways. You could get frustrated, get emotional.

“Or you could go the other route, which is what we did. Control what you can control, have quality at-bats the entire game. They stuck with our approach. They trusted the mechanics. They trusted the process. They trusted the hard work that they’ve put in all year.

“And because of that, we had the success that we wanted.”

It was the third time Viera had beaten Melbourne (23-6) this season and just like the previous two games, this one was tight throughout.

Viera pitcher Karyana Mitchell found herself in some tight spots only to get out of them by recording one of her 10 strikeouts, or through some strong defensive play.

“It was just about staying mental because we had already beaten them twice,” Mitchell said. “Tonight, it was about staying mental, staying in it each inning and coming out fired up.”

As tough as she was on the mound, Mitchell also came through in a big way on the bases. With the game scoreless going into the bottom of the fourth, Mitchell drew a walk.

Viera’s Taryn Aebli then came up and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. Only Mitchell didn’t stop at second base. She raced all the way to third to give Viera its first big scoring threat of the night.

“I heard my coach yelling, ‘Come three! Come three!’” Mitchell said. “I just tried to get there as fast as I could and get down. It was a good bunt by Taryn.”

With Mitchell on third, senior Taylor Jensen came up and delivered Viera’s only hit of the night – and it was a biggie – a triple to right field.

Morgan Mordas followed Jensen’s hit up with a sacrifice fly and the Hawks would lead 2-0 after four.

Melbourne would make a strong comeback effort, scoring a run and putting a runner on third base in the sixth, and getting two runners on in the top of the seventh. But each time, Mitchell and the Hawks would find a way to get out of danger.

Jensen did a nice job behind the plate and the Hawks also got a strong defensive effort from Mordas at third, Delilah Datta at short, Anna Brait at second, Hailey Mix at first, Jace Jackson in left, Aebli in center and Corrin Flajole in right.

“It definitely was a team effort,” Mitchell said. “I couldn’t have done it without all of them behind me. I love all of them for it.”

The Hawks, who have now won 11 games in a row, have been on quite a roll since getting off to a tough start this season against a schedule that included two defending state champions.

“With each game, I get more and more respect for how incredible these young women are,” Breeden said. “From the beginning of the season to where we are now, they’ve put in some work.

“They’ve grinded their butts off to get where they are right now. It’s a testament to them. It’s a testament to the trust that we’ve built. It’s a testament to what we’re building here with this program.

“It’s something special.”