Chipola Softball Finishes Fifth at Nationals
by Joc Calloway - Chipola Athletics
Sitting on the left field grass on Field 1 at the 2010 NJCAA National Softball Tournament in St. George, Utah, the tears of disappointment and sighs of exhaustion filled the air. Taking time to spend their final moments on the field before joining their families, the Lady Indians gathered together to support each other and briefly think about everything they have accomplished together this year.
After nearly eight straights hours under the hot Utah sun, it was a well-deserved time of reflection.
“I am so proud of how hard our team fought all year long,” said Chipola coach Belinda Hendrix. “Coming into the season, nobody predicted we would accomplish anything close to competing for the national championship.”
After what could only be described as a mysterious semi-final game versus Miami-Dade; in which a grand slam was overturned, another homerun was allowed by an ineligible player, and Chipola was defeated 16-7, the Lady Indians were forced into an elimination game against Seminole State College.
Facing elimination, Chipola and Seminole traded defensive stops throughout the game until late in the game when Seminole would jump out to a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. However, the heart of the Lady Indians was not ready to leave St. George without proving once again the true sign of a Chipola team.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hannah Lovestrand and Selentia Pittman both reached on infield singles before Michelle Hewett doubled to score pinch-runner Haley Adkison and move Pittman to third. Nikki Roddy then sacrificed to deep center field that allowed Pittman to score and Hewett to advance to third.
With two outs, Ariell van Hook appeared to line out at first, however, as Seminole was running off the field to celebrate the win, assistant coach Jimmy Hendrix inquired about an illegal substitution by Seminole. After a conferencing of officials, it was determine that Ariell would be given the opportunity to return to the batter’s box and the game would continue.
Two pitches later, van Hook would drive a pitch to deep left field that would score Hewett at third base. With two outs and van Hook standing on first base, Trish Bliss stepped to the plate in hopes of extending the game. Having had a grand slam reversed on a baffling call earlier in the game versus Miami-Dade, Bliss put the past behind her and connected on a two-run home run to tie the game 6-6 and send the game into extra innings.
Nevertheless, Seminole would score three runs in the top of the ninth to retake the lead 9-6 and Chipola would be eliminated in the bottom of the ninth when they were unable to plate the needed runs.
Looking back on the season, the Chipola Lady Indians earned an impressive overall record of 49-13 and reclaimed both the coveted State Championship and Panhandle Conference Championship.