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Chamberlain girls prove strong and balanced

The Chiefs fall just two wins short of a state championship.

By TERRY JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001


NORTH TAMPA -- Finding a weakness in the Chamberlain lineup was difficult for opposition softball teams. The Chiefs sported two of the best pitchers in the state, were consistent from top to bottom at the plate, and fielded a tight defense.

After a disastrous district final, the Chiefs battled back to beat state champions Riverview and No. 1 nationally ranked Countryside to earn a berth at state.

Then just two wins short of a state Class 5A championship, the Chiefs fell 3-2 to Green Cove Springs in the semis.

The Chiefs had a team batting average of .352, with 327 hits, 17 homeruns and 58 stolen bases.

"This was one of the most balanced teams I have coached," Chamberlain coach Bob Diez said. "Our pitching was exceptional, our defense was solid, and our hitting was consistent throughout the lineup."

This senior class won two western conference, district and regional championships. It placed second in the district twice, made the state final four twice and was state runner-up in 1999. Seniors also helped win three early bird and three spring break tournament championships.

The team will lose Nikki Trowell, Myesha Williams, Christina Thompson and Anita Davis, who enter the college ranks next year. Trowell signed a four-year scholarship with the University of South Florida before the season started. In three years as a starting pitcher for the Chiefs, she had a record of 37-7 and an ERA of 0.57 and threw 476 strikeouts.

On the mound this season, she was 13-1-1 with an ERA of 0.69 in 102 innings and threw 127 strikeouts. Offensively, she hit .333 with 28 RBI, three homeruns, three triples and six doubles.

Williams, who hasn't decided where she will play college ball, was an all state outfielder as a sophomore and could be the fastest player in the state. At the plate she hit .373 this season, with 16 RBI, a homerun, two triples and four doubles.

Thompson was a four-year starter at shortstop and played with a steady glove consistently on defense, according to Diez. She also hit .324 with 11 RBI, a pair of triples and three doubles. Davis was backup catcher and frequent designated hitter for three years. She hit .269 and recorded four RBI.

Krista Jessup and Krista Holle are the only juniors on the team. Jessup could be the most skilled catcher in the state, and few base runners challenge her strong arm. At the plate she hit .402, with five doubles and a triple and 37 RBI. She also scored 26 runs.

Holle is solid at third base and consistent at the plate as the leadoff hitter. Her on-base percentage is .594 and her fielding percentage is .933. She hit .410 with eight doubles, a pair of triples and 10 RBI, plus she scored 42 runs. On the bases she successfully stole 22 bases in 24 attempts.

Chamberlain's sophomore class has made a big impact on the team for two years. Amanda Cody, Melissa Zick, Natalie Ippolito, Eliza Anderson and Valerie Carde should be playing with the Chiefs for a couple more seasons.

On the mound, Cody finished the season with a 14-2 record plus two saves, had an ERA of 0.61 and 156 strikeouts. In two seasons, she recorded a 28-3 mark.

This year at the plate her slugging percentage was .902 and her batting average was .500. She also hit 10 homeruns and 10 doubles and recorded 40 RBI.

Zick played first base and led the team in RBI with 53. She also scored 37 runs and hit .442 with three homeruns, four triples and eight doubles.

Ippolito has been a two-year starter in leftfield, making spectacular plays with her speed. Her speed helped her to score 29 runs, plus she hit .330 with three triples, three doubles and 11 RBI.

Anderson and Carde played backup roles, but should start next year. Anderson scored 20 runs filling in as a courtesy runner for teammates.

Carly Griffin, Brandyce Trowell and Monica Fornos were the three freshmen making the team. Griffin and Trowell were both starters and impact players, hitting .323 and .280 respectively.

This was the first year of fast-pitch for Fornos, yet she still hit .278, playing in 17 games.

Sophomore Karla Webster and Jessup are reserve pitchers.

"We fell a little short of our goal this year, but we made a great run," Diez said.

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