TAMPA - Bartow won its third consecutive state championship when Jerrica Sanchez stole home in the ninth inning to defeat Pembroke Pines 1-0 in the Class 4A title game.
Sanchez said the one thing coach Glenn Rutenbar constantly stresses is alertness.
"He has told us that when we round third we should never, ever take our ears off him, and so when he whispered "Go' to me, I took the chance," Sanchez said.
At third with two outs, Sanchez took advantage of a momentary Jaguars lapse. The pitcher turned her back to Sanchez, and she raced home, sliding to avoid the catcher's tag.
"I knew when coach told me to go that I might have a chance and I made the break," Sanchez said.
Lindsey Littlejohn (19-1) pitched her third straight state final shutout, a two-hit gem, for the victory. Bartow, ranked ninth nationally in the USA Today poll, finished 31-1.6A: Southwest Miami pitches shutout
Southwest Miami had an easy time against Cypress Bay, shutting it out 8-0.
Southwest Miami pitcher Melissa Penn drove in the first run when she tripled to deep left. It would be all the Eagles would need as Penn allowed one single while striking out 10.
Centerfielder Jacqueline Yaniga added a home run for Southwest Miami.
Cypress Bay committed four errors and managed to advance only one runner to second base.
Cypress Bay's Jackie Mendintz made the defensive play of the game when she reached over the centerfield fence in the seventh to prevent a home run.A: Hollywood Christian adds to titles
Hollywood Christian scored two in first and never looked back as it rolled to consecutive state championships by beating McKeel Academy 5-0. It was the fifth state championship for the Eagles.
Hollywood Christian pitcher Angel Shamblin (18-0) shut out McKeel, allowing two hits while walking none and striking out eight. Shamblin hit a homer deep to left in the fifth for the final run. She also had a run-scoring single in the first.
Brooke Leggore of McKeel Academy had a double in the first for the Wildcats.
"I think there was a lot of pressure on us this year," Eagles coach Mark Montimurro said. "Everybody was gunning for us because of our success. It's a tribute to these players that they pulled it off."