Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State softball: Down to last strike, Chamberlain rallies past Bartow 9-8 to win Class 7A title

CLERMONT — Once their feet land back on Earth, don't be stunned if the Chamberlain Chiefs cash in their fresh collection of gold medals and pay to have senior centerfielder Madison "Madi" Gonzalez bronzed.

With the Chiefs' season down to its final strike, Gonzalez hit her fourth home run in two days — this one a two-run shot to left-centerfield — in the top of the seventh inning to propel Chamberlain (27-5) to a 9-8 win against Bartow in Saturday night's Class 7A softball state title game.

"I'm absolutely stunned," Gonzalez said. "But we deserve it."

The victory, before a boisterous, standing-room-only audience at the National Training Center, was Chamberlain's second triumphant rally from a four-run deficit in as many days.

They have a superstitious 17-year-old who ate the same pregame meal the last two days — a supermarket ham-and-cheese sandwich and water — to thank for it. Gonzalez's state tournament stat line: 4-for-6, four homers, 11 RBIs, one swing for immortality.

Her final homer came on a 1-and-2 pitch from Yellow Jackets ace Lauren West, who had thrown a no-hitter the previous night against Tallahassee Chiles. With third baseman Ellen Scott, who had doubled, on second base, West threw one down the middle and inside. Gonzalez said it was a bit high.

"That's my strike zone, so I just drove it," she said.

"I didn't want to strike out because I would feel really bad about myself, but I knew I had to get in and relax and whatever happened was meant to happen. I just saw the ball and just hit it wherever it was pitched."

Minutes later, Chiefs backup pitcher Amber Fullwood, who relieved struggling starter Rachel Dwyer for the second day in a row, set off the euphoria by forcing the Yellow Jackets' No. 9 and 1 hitters to hit grounders back to the circle to end things.

"It felt great to win, but the last two ground balls hit to me, I was really emotional," Fullwood said. "Our motto (is) 'finish' and we finished."

The game's dizzying ebb and flow produced 19 hits, three errors, and at least one run in each inning. The 17 total runs were the second-most scored in a state final, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Bartow had a 4-2 lead after three innings and already had chased Dwyer when 64-year-old Chiefs coach Bob Diez was asked during a between-innings interview if Fullwood could deliver another clutch effort as she did in Friday's semifinals against Cooper City.

"I said, 'Absolutely,' " Diez said.

He then was asked if his team could come back.

"I said, 'Stick around, you're going to see something good because we're going to hit the ball,' " he added.

Two innings later, a pair of Bartow errors set up catcher Lindsey Hagberg's three-run double, highlighting a four-run fifth inning and tying the score at 6. Fullwood's two-out RBI double in the sixth tied the score again, this time at 7.

Bartow took an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the sixth on Tonee Fabrizi's RBI double.

Then in the seventh, with no one in the bleachers sitting down, Gonzalez stepped up again.

"That was absolutely amazing," Chiefs shortstop Bianka Bell said. "I'm glad my team stepped up and did it for us."

State softball: Down to last strike, Chamberlain rallies past Bartow 9-8 to win Class 7A title

05/12/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 11:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  2. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

    Twitter
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi had to battle without his best stuff again, which is becoming a more common occurrence, leading to long at-bats — including 13 pitches to Kennys Vargas in the fifth — and running up his pitch count to 118 without finishing the sixth.