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Chiefs wake up in time to win

Trailing 2-0 after three innings, Chamberlain comes to life at the plate and defeats Plant 7-3.

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001


TAMPA -- The best thing about Chamberlain's softball team is, well ... where do you begin when talking about this squad?

There are so many good things to say, like the fact it doesn't get rattled, no matter the score or the opponent. A perfect example is Tuesday's 7-3 victory at Plant.

After three innings, the Chiefs trailed 2-0 and hadn't gotten a hit or reached base. Meanwhile, Plant had rapped four hits, including a long two-run double by Jessie Braggins to the gap in left-centerfield. "It was like we hadn't gotten used to daylight savings time or something," Chamberlain coach Bob Diez said. "We were asleep and I guess it took Jessie Braggins to finally wake us up."

In the top of the fourth, Chamberlain responded with four consecutive singles, the last a towering shot by Niki Trowell that bounced off the top of the centerfield fence and pushed across two runs.

The Chiefs scored five more on five hits in the following two innings, ultimately improving to 19-1-1 and showing why they're the county's powerhouse.

"We always look forward to playing Chamberlain because they don't get any better than Chamberlain," Plant coach Augie Quintero said. "Playing Chamberlain is a challenge that can only make you a better ballclub."

And this from a coach that guided Plant to the state final last year and returned many of his best players.

In fairness to the Panthers, who dropped to 11-8, they have played most of the season without starting catcher Lindsey Hodges (broken finger), and senior pitcher Jessica Hayden (two jammed knuckles). Both players wore casts before Hodges returned to game action this week after Hayden came back to throw her first game last week.

"But we're not making excuses," Quintero said. "You have to play with what you have."

Then he added, "But hey, it's a long season and there are a lot of ways to get where you want to be. Hopefully we can end up facing Chamberlain in the district final. Hopefully we can get there and have another shot at Chamberlain."

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