TAMPA — For many of Chamberlain’s softball players, today will be consumed by corsages and cosmetics, heels and hairstyling.
But on the eve of the school’s prom, formals gave way to formalities: another Bianka Bell homer, another solid Rachel Dwyer pitching effort, and yet another triumph.
Bell’s two-run blast over the fence in right-centerfield — her county-best seventh of the season — propelled Chamberlain (18-1, 7-1) to a 3-1 triumph Friday against Freedom in a key Class 7A, District 9 contest.
The victory not only secured the district tournament’s No. 1 seed for Chamberlain, but avenged its only defeat of 2012 — a 5-4 loss to the Patriots (9-4, 4-3) on March 2. The score of that first encounter was emblazoned on the Chiefs’ scoreboard before Friday’s game.
“We wanted it really bad,” said Bell, who collected two of Chamberlain’s nine hits. “We just came in here with a positive attitude, thinking we just had to stay relaxed and do our thing, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Bell’s homer, off an inside fastball from Patriots freshman Grace Street, gave the Chiefs a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Freedom scored its run in the top of the third off Street’s one-out RBI double, then loaded the bases two batters later via an error and walk.
But Dwyer (10-0) escaped the jam with consecutive strikeouts, surrendering only one hit the rest of the way for a complete-game two-hitter.
Kelly Smith’s RBI single in the fourth provided the final margin, which might have been greater had the Chiefs not stranded six runners.
“We had chances to break it open,” Chiefs coach Bobby Diez said. “I’m not (complaining), but I know what we can do and what we’re supposed to do. But they’ve got a prom (tonight), so I don’t know how focused they were.”
Seven of Chamberlain’s nine batters had at least one hit, led by Bell (2-for-3, two RBIs) and No. 8 hitter Lauren Holbrook (2-for-3 one run).