Darling, who won the stroke-play qualifying by six shots earlier in the week, maintained her impressive form at Moray Golf Club in Lossiemouth by progressing to the last four with a 4&3 success over Jennifer Rankine (Haggs Castle).
Having become the youngest winner of this event last year at just 13 and subsequently triumphing in the inaugural Girls Under-16 Open Championship, Darling is on course to vindicate being the title favourite.
However, she still has work on her hands and Neilson, for one, can’t be underestimated after the Alvaneu Bad member beat Milngavie’s Lorna McClymont 6&4 to book her semi-final spot.
To put that performance into context, McClymont took Hannah McCook, winner of both the Irish and Welsh Stroke-Play Championships this year, to the first extra hole in the second round of the Scottish Women’s Championship at Elie last month.
A tough test could also await Darling, should she make it, in the final as Strathmore’s Kirsty Brodie faces Louise Duncan (West Kilbride) in the other last-four clash.
Brodie pipped Duncan in a play-off to win the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Vase at Macdonald Cardrona last month and the male equivalent has also proved a good form guide at Lossiemouth in the Scottish Boys Championship, which is being staged simultaneously.
Castle Park’s Connor Wilson, the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Trophy winner, is through to the Boys semi-finals after beating leading qualifier Aidan O’Hagan (Old Ranfurly) and now meets Jack Broun of Ayr Belleisle.
Also still standing are last year’s beaten finalist, Australia-based Joshua Greer (Joondalup Country Club), and Royal Aberdeen’s Liam Waldron.