Oak Hill’s Emily Ahlberg slides into home to score as the ball bounces off the glove of Morse catcher Paige Faulkingham. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

WALES — The stress on Morse’s Dory Kulis’ face was replaced with a wide smile when the winning pitcher’s teammates rushed the circle to congratulate her.

Kulis, who crushed a two-run homer in the first inning, notched her eighth strikeout to fend off Oak Hill in the bottom of the seventh inning. Her performance, along with some timely hitting and a strong defense, helped the fifth-ranked Shipbuilders eke out a 4-3 victory over the No. 4 Raiders in a Class B South softball quarterfinal on Friday.

The Shipbuilders (13-4) go on to face No. 1 York (14-3) in a semifinal game Saturday at 3 p.m.

Morse pitcher Dory Kulis winds up for a pitch during Friday’s playoff game against Oak Hill. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

Kulis felt the pressure, but she delivered in the circle and at the plate.

“There was definitely pressure; they are an amazing team,” Dory Kulis said. “We faced them many times, and each time it has been a great battle. Just as a team, we had to come in focused and keep our heads up.”

Morse coach Wil Laffely wasn’t surprised when Kulis smashed her home run.

“She has led us in slugging percentage all year long,” Laffely said. “She had more extra base hits than singles. She battled like .450, .460 for us and it was her fifth or sixth home run this year. She hits with power so …”

It looked like the Shipbuilders were going to waltz away with a 4-3 win in the bottom of the seventh after outfielder Kali Pierce made two fine catchers in right field to put Morse one out away from the semifinals.

But the Raiders had other ideas. Third baseman Julie Noel singled and Molly Flaherty got on with a walk. They both moved up a base on a passed ball. Catcher Abby Nadeau came up and fouled off several balls before Kulis delivered the third strike to end the game.

Oak Hill’s Julia Noel is tagged out by Morse third baseman Abby Carpenter during Friday’s playoff game in Wales. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

Leading 2-1 going into the fifth inning, the Shipbuilders drove across more runs to extend their lead. Brook Kulis singled and Paige Faulkingham got on with a walk. They both came home on RBI singles from Kate Pierce and Kali Pierce to give the Shipbuilders a comfortable 4-1 lead.

“We have been playing pretty well defensively the last two or three weeks,” Laffely said

In the sixth inning, the Raiders responded with a pair of runs that put the squeeze on the Shipbuilders. Makala Smith and Mirander Kramer each singled and both scored on Deanna Bauer’s RBI single that made it a 4-3 game.

“They played extremely hard just like I wanted them to,” Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins. “We had opportunities to punch it … and we left a lot on base. We had a couple of unfortunate errors that led to runs.

Oak Hill first baseman Emily Ahlberg ranges into foul ground but can’t make a catch during Friday’s game against Morse. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

“I was just proud of their offensive performance. Other than a few defensive errors, they played a good defensive game and I couldn’t have really asked for much more.”

In the first inning, Brook Kulis got on with an error and raced home when Dory Kulis’ home-run blast landed over the left-field fence and gave Morse a 2-0 lead.

Oak Hill got on the scoreboard in the third inning when Emily Ahlberg doubled and moved to third base on a couple of infield outs. She raced home for a run on Noel’s bunt.

The teams were evenly matched in the scorebook. The Shipbuilder outhit the Raiders 10-8 and made one error. Oak Hill had two errors and losing pitcher Sadie Waterman struck out six batters. Morse’s Carpenter led all hitters with two singles and a double.

Oak Hill pitcher Sadie Waterman winds up for a pitch during Friday’s playoff softball game against Morse. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham