TAMPA — For several years now, Chamberlain’s motto has been “finish.” When the Chiefs lost the district title to Jefferson less than two weeks ago, they weren’t able to do that.
So as they prepared to take on the Dragons yet again, this time in a Class 6A region semifinal, the Chiefs knew exactly what their new mind-set would be.
“To get revenge,” Chamberlain third baseman Jenna Brownell said. “And to not give up on anything. This is why we work. We sweat too hard every single day to let it slip through our fingers.”
Brownell took matters into her own hands Tuesday, hitting a three-run homer in the first inning to give Chamberlain a lead it never relinquished on the way to a 7-3 win.
Having led Jefferson (17-7) early the last time they played, Chamberlain (22-3) coach Bobby Diez didn’t allow himself to get too excited after Brownell’s shot.
But the Chiefs, who had 13 hits, continued their big day at the plate in the fifth, scoring on a Liz Diaz sac fly. In the sixth, Chamberlain added three more runs on RBI doubles from Megan Maloney and Lauren Williams and on another sac fly from Hope Hernandez.
Jefferson, whose outfielders appeared out of position at times, struggled throughout the game on defense. For the Chiefs, fielding was a bright spot.
“I’m only a sophomore; I’m not always the strikeout kind of pitcher,” Chamberlain starting pitcher Olivia Dwyer said. “So I like that I can always trust my defense, get outs, and my defense will make them.”
After scoring its first and only run to that point on a Natali Morgado groundout in the fourth, Jefferson, down six runs, didn’t go down without a fight. The Dragons scored a pair of runs on a groundout and Chamberlain error in the sixth, then recorded back-to-back two-out singles in the final frame.
A loss to Jefferson 12 days ago gave Chamberlain a rougher road through the playoffs, but to Diez, that was no challenge his team couldn’t overcome.
“We’ve been there seven times to the final four, three times we were (district) runners-up. It doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to play,” Diez said. “You lose and you go home, so it don’t matter where you come from.”