Katlin Hall’s hands were trembling, and her eyes began to well up with tears.
Maybe it was the adrenaline still moving through her body, or the shock of what had just occurred.
After a 4-2 upset against defending state champion Chamberlain in the Class 7A-Region 3 semifinals Thursday, Freedom High’s softball team is one win from playing in the state tournament, and the senior pitcher could hardly contain her emotions.
“There are no words to describe the feeling I have right now,” Hall said. “I never thought we would have come this far.”
Freedom (20-3) will play at Sarasota in the region final Saturday at 2 p.m.
Thursday’s game was a continuation of Tuesday’s originally scheduled game. On Tuesday, Hall hit a two-run homer to give Freedom a 2-0 lead. The game was suspended after the first inning because of rain. Play resumed Wednesday, but the game was again suspended in the top of the fourth inning with Freedom ahead, 3-2.
On Thursday, junior Rachel Carlson hit an RBI single to score Ashley Wilson in the top of the sixth inning to give the Patriots the 4-2 lead. With Hall on the mound, Chamberlain (21-8) loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth with two outs but could not push any runs across. The Chiefs had one last opportunity in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on second and one out, but Hall, who came in to pitch in the fourth inning, forced a pop-up to third and a grounder to shortstop to end the game.
“These kids worked hard from day one,” Freedom coach Autum Hernandez said. “They deserve every ounce of it.”
Over the past three days, Chamberlain left seven runners on base.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Chamberlain coach Bob Diez said. “We didn’t hit. We had every opportunity.”
Bradenton Bayshore rallied in the top of the seventh inning, scoring on a suicide squeeze and an RBI double, to end Blake’s dream season in the Class 5A-Region 3 semifinals, 8-7.
Blake, which earned its first postseason win in the fast-pitch era last week, had a runner on first with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Bayshore forced a groundout to second to end the game. The Yellow Jackets (12-11) also had bases loaded in the fourth and sixth innings.
“We had the error and we didn’t play it and we missed a few tag ups,” Blake coach Jean Smith said. “A lot of people wrote us off at the beginning of the season, but they still had a phenomenal run. It just didn’t fall our way.”
Bayshore’s Mariah Clark sprinted to home plate on a bunt and slid under the tag to tie the game at 7. With one out, Cassidy Clifford hit an RBI double to score Taylor Izatt from second base.
Blake led 6-1 entering the second inning on Wednesday, but allowed Bayshore to score five consecutive runs to tie the game at 6. The game was stopped in the bottom of the third inning Wednesday. On Tuesday, the original date for the game, Blake led 3-1 in the bottom of the first with two runners on base and one out when the game was suspended by rain.
Smith suspects the postponements ruined her team’s momentum.
“If we would have finished that first night, it would have been a different outcome,” she said. “If we would have played a whole game today, it would have been a different outcome. It’s just one of those things where the weather, the field, everything kind lined up against us and it didn’t fall our way.”