VERO BEACH -- The Class 8A state championship will come down to a battle between Miami-Dade and Broward County teams vying for their first title.
Junior right-hander Sarah Maloney pitched a two-hitter as Cypress Bay beat Winter Garden’s West Orange 3-0 in a semifinal Friday night at Vero Sports Village.
The Lightning (21-5), currently riding a 10-game win streak, will face Miami Coral Reef at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. The program — in just its second state appearance — finished as the runner-up in 2004.
Maloney (10-3) allowed just one hit through the first five innings — sophomore right-hander Kelsey Morrison’s leadoff single to left in the third — but she tried to stretch it into a double and got thrown out.
“It feels pretty great to me because last year we made it to regional finals and lost in the eighth inning, and to go from that to the finals is a great feeling,” said Maloney, who struck out nine batters and walked two.
In both the fifth and sixth frames, Maloney escaped trouble with a runner on second and two outs. Morrison struck out swinging in the fifth, while sophomore shortstop Cassady Brewer grounded out to third in the sixth.
Cypress Bay took a 1-0 lead in the first on freshman first baseman Maggie Scott’s sacrifice fly off Morrison (9-4).
It scored sophomore leadoff hitter Lexi DiEmmanuele, who had tripled to center.
The Warriors (25-6) committed a pair of errors in the sixth, giving the Lightning a pair of unearned insurance runs.
Junior second baseman Maddie Gott led off the frame with a walk and moved to second on sophomore catcher Olivia Gott’s sacrifice bunt.
Maloney singled sharply to left. Maddie initially stopped at third, but came home when the left fielder bobbled the ball.
On the ensuing play, the third baseman’s low throw to first on freshman designated player Nikki Rotman’s grounder got away, driving in senior pinch-runner Courtney Methven.
“It was very key because we needed a cushion,” Scott said of the insurance runs. “It reassured us that we had it in the bag.”
Play was halted with one out in the bottom of the second inning on a 1-1 count to senior third baseman Maddie Widerman because of lightning in the area. It resumed an hour later.
“It was a dominating performance by Sarah,” coach Lonny Shapiro said. “She continues every single game to get better and better. Every kid is playing for each other.
“It’s not one person who’s carrying us.”
WP: Sarah Maloney (10-3). LP: Kelsey Morrison (9-4).