TAMPA — While Chamberlain coach Bob Diez was writing out his lineup card Friday night, his starting second baseman was in the hunched over in the parking lot behind the Jefferson softball field, sick enough that she didn't think she'd be able to play in the Class 5A-10 title game against Plant.
As has been the script in two previous meetings between these rivals, runs would be at a premium, and after some swings in the batting cage, Marissa Menendez said she felt good enough to step to the plate for the Chiefs' best scoring opportunity.
And the UCF signee drove in the game's only run, a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning that gave Chamberlain a 1-0 win over Plant, the Chiefs' third victory over the Panthers this season.
"I just wanted to touch the ball," Menendez said.
Chiefs pitcher Alex Hartshorn allowed just one hit — an Erica Arcuri sixth-inning single — and struck out 10. Hartshorn (17-2) stranded runners at first and second in the sixth and finished the game with the potential tying run at second in the seventh.
In three games against Chamberlain (25-2) this season, Plant (20-6) has managed just one run.
Panthers starter Kayla Suskauer was equally as dominating, allowing just one hit until the fifth inning, when Madison Gonzalez singled with one out and moved to second on a sacrifice, setting the stage for Menendez's game-winning hit.
"I knew it was going to be this kind of game," Diez said. "It's been that way all year. We did just enough — textbook softball."