TAMPA — Jenna Brownell’s eighth-inning single with two outs gave defending state champion Chamberlain a wild 9-8 win Friday over Strawberry Crest.
“I wanted to be the one who finished it,” Brownell said.
She came through with a smash to leftfield that just eluded the diving effort of Maddie Turner. Lindsey Hagberg, who extended the inning with a two-out double ahead of Zalonzia Canady’s infield single, scored the winning run.
Chamberlain avoided falling to 2-2. The Chiefs had three homers, including one by Brownell leading off the sixth when her team looked out of it.
Both teams hit grand slams — only to cough up the seemingly comfortable lead it gave them. Strawberry Crest’s was a career first by Cacey Simmons to go up 5-1 in the fourth.
“She’s a slap hitter, but with bases loaded and two outs she was swinging away,” said Chargers coach Mindy Miltner. “We knew it was out when she hit it. We were shocked, but knew it was out.”
However, the Chiefs scored seven runs in the sixth to take an 8-5 lead. Brownell started it and the capper came on Canady’s slam, a no-doubt blast to left-center. The Chiefs even managed to overcome a sensational unassisted double play by Crest first baseman Savannah Bradley, who dove to snag a liner.
Strawberry Crest answered back in the top of the seventh. Simmons started with a bunt single then a base hit by Mia Fung was misplayed into a run. Chamberlain’s Amber Fullwood made a great double play on a liner to third base, but it was overturned for catcher interference. An error made it 8-7 and the Chargers tied it on a two-out walk to Turner.
Fullwood came on to pitch and struck out Kasey Locke to end the threat.
Lauren Holbrook went 3-for-5 with a homer that made it 1-1 in the second and an RBI single during the big Chamberlain sixth.
Fung and Jordan Bowers had two hits apiece for the Chargers, and Megan Reed played a stellar game at shortstop.
Strawberry Crest suffered its first defeat after outscoring its first three opponents by an average 15-0 margin.
“That’s a very good softball team we beat,” said Chamberlain coach Bobby Diez. “But our team’s a bunch of fighters. And we’ve got some pretty good hitters.”