LACEY, Wash. – Taylor Morales feared her plate appearance was going to be short-lived.
The University High junior was late on her swing, foul-tipping the ball high into the air, just beyond first base.
Morales inched out of the batter’s box, believing the likelihood her fourth-inning foul would be caught.
Two Peninsula players gave chase, but neither caught up to the ball, giving Morales new life.
A second chance which Morales proceeded to crush over the center-field fence on the next pitch she saw for a solo home run.
Morales also added an RBI triple, Brittany Hecker was dominant on the mound and the Titans advanced to the State 3A softball semifinals with a 5-1 victory over Peninsula at the Regional Athletic Complex on Friday.
It marks the second consecutive season University (20-5) has made the semifinals.
The Titans will play Prairie, a 5-3 winner over Juanita in quarterfinal play, at 9 a.m. today with the winner securing a place in the state title game at 1:30 p.m.
“Brittany had command of her pitches in the second game, especially her change-up,” University coach Jon Schuh said. “Any time she pitches like that we have a chance to win. Plus we were able to come up with a couple big hits.”
Morales provided the biggest of them all, taking Peninsula starter Aspen Ison deep to give the Titans a 3-1 cushion.
“I was just hoping she’d throw something I could swing at,” Morales said. “She floated a change-up and I just kept my hands back and made contact. It felt amazing to be able to help my team out with a big hit.”
Morales wasn’t finished, driving in Rachael Johnson with a triple in the seventh and later scoring on a Hecker single.
The Seahawks (18-8) took a 1-0 lead on a throwing error in the second, but found little success against Hecker, who gave up just three hits while striking out 10 to notch the victory.
Hecker also did damage with her bat, going 2 for 3 with a walk.
Hecker also went 4 for 4 with two doubles in University’s 11-10 victory over Bainbridge (23-5) in the opening round.
University trailed Bainbridge, 9-3, in the fourth before scoring five runs in the fifth.
Ryelynn Mendoza, who went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs, drove in the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh, sending the Titans to the quarterfinals.