LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Heading into the final regional quarterfinal of her prep softball career, Amber Wimmer pledged to be more patient at the plate.
It took one at-bat for that plan to go pleasantly awry.
Lakewood Ranch's senior third baseman swung at the first pitch she saw Thursday night and hammered a two-run double to center. Wimmer took a similar approach two innings later and laced a run-scoring single to center.
Not many in Mustangs colors were complaining about the change, especially because Wimmer helped Lakewood Ranch to a 9-1 win over Tampa Sickles in Class 6A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
The Mustangs (18-9-1) host Dover Strawberry Crest, a 5-0 winner over Palmetto, at 7 p.m. April 30 in a regional semifinal.
"I went up to the plate (Thursday) thinking, 'Don't
swing at the first pitch,'" said Wimmer, who singled on a 2-1 pitch in the fifth. "Usually, I'm very anxious in the box. So I said, 'If she gives me a strike where I want it, I'm (swinging) immediately.' She happened to put the first pitch right there."
Wimmer's first-inning double gave Lakewood Ranch a 2-0 lead. Her RBI single in the third stoked a five-run rally that virtually put the game away.
"When she's seeing the ball well, she's sees the ball very well," Mustangs coach Tony Cummins said. "You never know if she's going first (pitch) or fourth. But she's going to go. It was pretty obvious she saw it well."
The same could be said for the rest of the Mustangs' lineup.
Leadoff hitter Jennifer Trotter singled three times and scored three runs, and No. 2 hitter McKaleigh Goodale dropped a sacrifice bunt in the first, hit a two-run home run in the third and doubled in a run in the sixth.
Shea Fisher and Kathleen Hopkins added RBIs for the Mustangs, who finished with 11 hits.
Amanda Rak made it stand up, striking out six, scattering six hits and allowing one unearned run.
"I'm a very fortunate coach," Cummins said. "I'm don't mean to sound cocky, but I don't have marginal talent. Most of my bench players would start on most other varsity squads. ... The talent that has come out of this park, the rec ball leagues in this park, has been exceptional. And continues to be."
The Mustangs now look toward the Chargers, who are 24-2 and ranked third in the state in Class 6A. Sensing his team would see Strawberry Crest in the postseason, Cummins scouted the Chargers three times this season.
"They will be very tough," he said. "They look a whole lot like we do: older, very good pitching, a good mix of power and speed, a good mix of pedigree. ... It'll be a battle."
DOVER STRAWBERRY CREST 5, PALMETTO 0 -- For four innings, the visiting Tigers held their ground against the third-ranked team in Class 6A, but in a matter of minutes, it slipped away.
The Chargers scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and went on to end the Tigers' season with a in the Class 6A-Region 3 quarterfinals.
Strawberry Crest (24-2) will play Lakewood Ranch in the region semifinals on Tuesday.
Strawberry Crest junior pitcher Sammy Tyler tossed a one-hitter and collected 12 strikeouts. Auria Mounts recorded Palmetto's lone hit in the second inning. Mounts had three strikeouts and allowed one hit until the fifth inning.