Mariner got the win it needed Tuesday night against North Fort Myers. Now the Tritons will try to take out Lemon Bay in Thursday's District 5A-13 Tournament championship game at North Fort Myers.
Mariner downed the host Red Knights 9-4 in the semifinals to earn a shot at Lemon Bay, which hasn't lost a district game this season. The Manta Rays (19-2) blanked Cape Coral 5-0 in Tuesday's early semifinal.
North had beaten Mariner twice during the regular season, but the Tritons prevailed when it counted the most.
"It's hard to beat a team three times," Mariner coach Donna Coleman said. "I don't care who you are."
The loss was a bitter pill for North (15-11), which will not be playing in the tourney's final game.
Red Knights coach Rachel Holloway didn't want to comment after her team's loss.
The Tritons (13-10) scored three times in the first inning, eventually putting the game away with a four-run seventh.
Shortstop Felicia Rice drove in five Mariner runs with her first-inning triple and two-run double in the seventh. Pitcher Alyssa Langdale was 3-for-3, scoring twice, and first baseman Heather Gillions had two hits and scored three runs.
While it may be hard to beat a team three times, Lemon Bay has done just that to Mariner. One of those losses was a preseason game and didn't count in the standings.
So will the fourth time be a charm for Mariner Thursday?
"We played them better last time (a 5-1 home loss)," Coleman said. "You know, they're a good team. They've got a good pitcher. They're solid top to bottom. We're coming on, though.
"We have started hitting the ball," Coleman said. "Early in the year, the middle part of the year, we weren't hitting the ball. We were not playing very good defense.
"We need to score and take the pressure off the pitcher. We have a good pitcher (Langdale). I think she's one of the best in the area."
Coleman said she would talk to her players about Lemon Bay (19-2) at Wednesday's practice.
"I'll tell them to stay with them. Don't let them have the big inning. Maybe they'll make mistakes. They're not used to coming from behind. So if you put them in a position like that anything can happen."
For North, pitcher Alynn Kayatta was 4-for-4 at the plate and drove in two runs. Center fielder Katelyn Kelly had two hits and scored three times and shortstop Kaitlynn Grubb came all the way around to score in the fourth inning when her double was misplayed in the outfield.
Mariner 300 020 4 7 11 3
N. Fort Myers 101 010 1 4 11 2
W - Langdale. L - Kayatta.
2B - Heather Gillions (M), Krolczyk (M), Rice (M), Kaitlynn Grubb (NFM). 3B - Felicia Rice (M), Kayatta (NFM).