TAMPA — Plant and Chamberlain know each other well enough to realize that their fourth game against each other this season — this time with a trip to the Class 5A region softball final on the line — would likely come down to one hit.
The only question Saturday was when that hit would come.
So when Plant centerfielder Erica Arcuri slapped a hit down the leftfield line with the bases loaded and two outs in the 10th inning, she was thinking one thing while running to first base.
"Stay fair," Arcuri said.
The hit hugged the line, cleared the bases and gave Plant the hit it needed in a 4-0 marathon region semifinal win over the rival Chiefs.
The Panthers' first win this season over Chamberlain, ranked 16th in the nation by ESPN Rise, ended the Chiefs' season and earned them a rematch at Venice in the region final Tuesday at 7 p.m. Plant (22-6) lost to Venice 1-0 in last year's region final.
"We all knew we could do it," said Arcuri, who was 3-for-5 in just her second game hitting in the No. 3 spot in the order. "It was just a matter of who was going to step up. This is definitely the one we wanted to win."
Plant pitcher Kayla Suskauer (13-6, 1.33 ERA) threw one of her best game of the season, a complete-game three-hitter, striking out 10. She allowed just one hit through nine innings.
"I was getting a little bit tired," said Suskauer, a Furman recruit. "I know how strong their offense is, so you really can't back down at any time."
Suskauer was at her best under pressure. She stranded runners at second and third in the fourth inning, and induced a double play ball when Chamberlain (25-3) had the winning run at second with one out in the ninth inning.
"It was tough losing to them three times during the season, especially in the district final," Suskauer said. "I think we had the desire to win this one. That made us want it more."