This afternoon at 2 p.m. at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont, the Dixie County (Cross City) softball team will play Fort White in the Class 1A state semifinals.
It’s the first final four in program history for the Bears, who defeated Taylor (Pierson), 9-0, in last Tuesday’s regional final to advance.
It’s also the first state semifinal in softball for Fort White, which shut out Union County (Lake Butler), 4-0, in the 1A-Region 3 Final.
Both schools also made their first state baseball tournament last week in Fort Myers where the Dixie County lost to top-ranked Bozeman (Panama City), 8-4, in the 1A state semifinals, and Fort White lost to eventual state champion Holmes County, 4-1, in the other 1A semifinal.
This is the third meeting this season between the Bears and the Indians softball teams.
Dixie County, which is 21-4 this season, defeated Fort White at home, 7-0, on Feb. 24, and 2-1 on the road on April 21.
The Bears (21-4) enter the game with a 10-game winning streak. They are batting .329 as a team with six players hitting .307 or better.
Dixie County is led at the plate by Bria Hinkle, who is batting .440 with a team-leading 33 RBI and six triples. The junior is also leading the team in the circle with a 13-1 record and a 0.91 earned run average.
Hinkle has 130 strikeouts and only 18 walks in 107.2 innings pitched.
Junior Peyton Hatcher (.398) leads the team with 35 hits and 10 doubles, while senior Juliann Smith (.385), junior Gracie McKinnon (.364), junior Shylee Brown (.343), and senior Madisyn Langford (.317) have been key contributors on offense for the Bears.
Fort White (15-7), which is batting .304 as a team, has won six in a row since the April 21 loss to the Bears.
Freshman Kadence Compton (14 RBI, 6 doubles, three home runs) leads the Indians with a .389 batting average and 28 hits.
Compton, who struck out 14 and tossed a 2-hitter in the region final win against the Tigers, is also 15-5 in the circle with a 1.29 ERA. She has 201 strikeouts in 130.2 innings pitched.
Sophomore Gracie Clemons (.357), junior Madison Brown (.351), sophomore N’Coreyia Atkins (.345) and senior Kaitlyn Suggs (.319) all have 20 or more hits this season for the Indians.
The game will be broadcast online (free audio) at MainStreetDailyNews.com with the pregame beginning at 1:50 p.m.
The winner will play either Jay or Liberty County in the Class 1A state championship game on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.