By ROD GIPSON
Chamberlain wins match of local titans
NORTH TAMPA -- The area's top softball powers met Tuesday whenChamberlain shut down Sickles and took a 5-1 win. Chamberlain pitcher Amanda Cody overcame tonsillitis to dominate a usually strong-hitting Sickles team, allowing just three hits while striking out eight. Offensively, the Chiefs pounded out 10 hits, four of which were for extra bases.
The win improves the Chiefs to 16-3 for the season, solidifying their no. 3 ranking in the Class 5A state poll. Sickles, meanwhile, slips to 12-3 but is still ranked no. 3 on the Class 4A poll.
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TRACK & FIELD: Wharton had three standout performances at the Florida Relays in Gainesville March 30, but Gaither had the area's lone first-place finish. Dara Altman's 11 feet pole vault claimed the top spot for Gaither. A senior, Altman is the defending Class 4A state champion in the event. Wharton's Natalie Moser was third in the pole vault at 10 feet. The Wildcats also got solid results from Kendra Smith and Jevon Mitchell. Smith, a senior, took second place in the triple jump with a leap of 39 feet 9 inches while Mitchell, a sophomore, was third in the 100-meter dash at 10.84 seconds.
BASEBALL: With its convincing win against Leto in the tournament championship game March 30, Sickles became the first Saladino Tournament repeat champion since Bloomingdale did so during the 1994-95 season.
More importantly, the Gryphons are heating up at the right time of the season. Sickles entered this year's Saladino with a 7-6 record after struggling through most of the first part of the season. Since then, the Gryphons have repeated as Saladino champs and won eight straight games, two coming after the event.
The Gryphons' Grant Chapman has been the biggest contributor to the hot streak. Chapman had 10 RBI during the Saladino, including three in the 10-0 title game rout of the Falcons. Chapman, whose efforts earned him tournament MVP honors for the second consecutive season, has stayed hot, hitting a home run Tuesday against North Miami.
In beating Jefferson 4-1 on Thursday, Chris Delaney threw a three-hit, complete game for Sickles, which now boasts a 14-6 record. Senior outfielder Justin Nickolich contributed with a two-run home run. The victory was vital for the Gryphons, who are battling for position in the competitive Class 4A, District 9 race. Plant currently is in first, with Brandon, Armwood, Sickles and Jefferson following. Three games separate the five teams with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
SCHOLARSHIPS: Chamberlain softball player Krista Jessup has orally committed to East Carolina University. Jessup, a four-year starting catcher for the Chiefs expects to sign with the school next week. Jessup is batting .320 despite missing the early part of the softball season with a knee injury incurred while playing for the Chamberlain soccer team.
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