CLASS 5A: One of four walks leads to the game's only run and a berth in the state final.
By SCOTT PURKS
Published May 16, 2003
TAMPA - There is an old saying in softball that if you don't hit, you don't win.
Well, forget it.
Here is the new saying for the day: Chamberlain didn't get a hit in Thursday's state semifinal and still won 1-0 over Gainesville Buchholz.
Or, as Buchholz pitcher Stacey Stevens said, "Sure it was a no-hitter, but it wasn't a no-walker."
To her credit, Stevens only walked four, but it was the leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth inning to Natalie Ippolito that really bugged her.
That's when Monica Fornos, subbing for injured Ashley Arcuri, laid down a sacrifice bunt, which was followed by the game's only error.
Brandyce Trowell hit a slow chopper to third that was picked up cleanly; the throw, however, sailed 4 feet over the first baseman's head as Ippolito raced home for the victory.
"I ain't proud, as long as I get a run I don't care how it is," Chamberlain coach Bob Diez said. "It doesn't matter to me. I'm from West Tampa, I've stolen a lot of things in my life (chuckling)."
In the first inning, it appeared Buchholz (27-4) might doom the Chiefs, who have come close several times but never captured a state championship.
The game's first batter, Buchholz's Candi Hicks, walked, was sacrificed to second and went to third on a passed ball. After Stevens' line shot to first, Hicks dove back to the bag at third but the throw to double her up bounced off her helmet.
With the ball loose, Hicks raced for home, but third baseman Missy Zick picked it up and cut Hicks down at the plate.
A second dodged bullet came in the fourth when Chamberlain centerfielder Carly Griffin picked up a rolling single and gunned down Arden Mitchell at home.
"That was a great chance," Buchholz coach Donna Howard said. "And at this level you don't get many chances to get even one run across."
And why wouldn't they? This season, Stevens, who signed with Florida, has thrown 14 no-hitters (four consecutive in the playoffs), two perfect games, has a 0.12 ERA and collected her 1,000th career strikeout Thursday.
And yet it is Chamberlain (27-5) that is moving on to play in tonight's championship at 8 against Naples.
"Hopefully this is the year," Diez said. "This team is dedicating this year to all the other (Chamberlain) teams who have come close in the past."