DUNNELLON — A tight grip, a hard swing and a sharp hit down the third-base line was all part of the plan.
Many nights, the ball would have fired past the third baseman. Not this night.
Instead, Dunnellon sophomore Haley Fagan scooped up the grounder, tagged third base then fired to first to end the sixth inning and Mitchell's best shot at scoring.
Dunnellon held on for a 2-0 win over Mitchell in a Class 4A region final.
In the end, Cortney Radke, the Mustangs' star pitcher/hitter, showed her team could hang with one of the country's top softball teams despite grounding out in her final high school at-bat.
"They have great defense," Radke said. "I just wanted to get a good hit on her (Dunnellon pitcher Kasey Fagan).
"She's a good pitcher. She threw me a mistake, I hit hard, it just happened to be to a good third baseman."
Mitchell (21-4) had no reason to walk away ashamed considering Dunnellon (30-1) had lost just two games in two seasons and is the defending Class 4A state champion.
Even the Tigers, boosted by a standing-room only crowd with more fans than the playoff baseball game behind the visitor's dugout, struggled to find runs.
They got the one they needed in the second inning.
Haley Fagan reached second base after a single to rightfield. Two batters later, Tigers senior Samantha Wright executed a squeeze bunt, scoring Haley Fagan for a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Mitchell struggled to find hitting holes and hit just two balls to the outfield all night.
"I thought we did a good job hitting the ball hard tonight," Mitchell coach Scott Bisbe said. "We just hit everything right at people. We couldn't get a break."
Kasey Fagan went the distance, throwing a no-hitter with four strikeouts. Radke had four strikeouts and allowed four hits in her final performance, one that earned the respect of Dunnellon.
"Their pitcher is very good," Kasey Fagan said of Radke. "She moves the ball really well, she has good speed. They played good defense.
"We just executed the squeeze, got a couple of hits and just capitalized."
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 421-3886.