Ace propels Chiefs to final

Published April 29, 2005

TAMPA - Chamberlain's Heather VanLandingham pitched with a sore back Thursday. The junior right-hander also threw with a purpose.

VanLandingham pitched a complete-game three-hitter and struck out nine as Chamberlain defeated Gaither 2-0 in the semifinals of the Class 5A, District 7 tournament.

The Chiefs advanced to today's final against host Sickles at 11 a.m. Sickles scored an unearned run in the 11th inning to outlast Alonso 4-3.

"Coach (Bob) Diez told us how important this game was, so I was ready," VanLandingham said. "My back's been hurting, but I just worked through it."

VanLandingham (8-1) was in total command after escaping a first-inning jam. She allowed only one hit in the final six innings and threw 61 of 99 pitches for strikes.

Third baseman Kelly Confer and catcher Amanda Patrick also played key roles. In the first inning, two singles and a sacrifice put Gaither runners at second and third with one out. But after VanLandingham struck out Ashley Rowe, Patrick threw to Confer, who tagged out Megan Baker. In the fourth, Confer became only the second player to hit a home run over the Sickles fence. Her blast to left-centerfield off Rowe gave top-seeded Chamberlain (23-3) a 1-0 lead. VanLandingham added a run-scoring single in the sixth.

"(VanLandingham) has pitched like that all year," Diez said. "It's typical for her, and it's what I'm counting on."

In the second game, Sickles (14-4) won as Katie Forbes' double in the 11th scored Hannah Ojeda from first. Ojeda had reached on a two-out outfield error.

Khrystyne Ely (9-4) went the distance and allowed three unearned runs for the Gryphons.

5A-8: East Bay, Plant win

GIBSONTON - Senior Ashley Urbanik threw a two-hitter and got plenty of run support as East Bay defeated King 7-0 in the semifinals.

The win sets up another East Bay-Plant matchup as the Panthers topped Brandon 8-0. Host East Bay, the defending district champion, has faced Plant three times this season, winning all three.

East Bay and Plant, the Nos.1 and 2 seeds, respectively, play at 7 tonight.

Urbanik dominated the Lions, allowing hits only in the first and last innings and striking out 15. At one point, Urbanik (14-4) struck out 10 in a row, and she allowed only four baserunners.

The Indians offense meanwhile, received a spark when Brittany Yates hit a solo home run in the second. Two innings later, East Bay (21-5) used two King errors to score two runs.

East Bay's Chantelle Doane hit a two-run double as part of a three-run fifth.

King's best shot at scoring came in the first, when Frances Snelling walked and Shirley Pistole followed with a single. King (10-13) had runners on first and second and no outs, but Urbanik began her streak of consecutive strikeouts.

Plant, meanwhile, was equally dominant. The Panthers (19-7) scored three runs in the first and three more in the second. That was more than enough for Kelly Betts, who allowed Brandon only one hit.

- ROD GIPSON, Times correspondent