For the third time in the last five years the Bartow Lady Jackets have captured the championship in the Tournament of Champions.
To open the Fifth Annual Tournament of Champions Bartow’s Lauren West brought her A game as she threw a no-hitter while striking out 14 Warriors from West Nassau High School. While West was mowing down the competition the Lady Jackets were busy banging out seven hits and scoring seven runs. Cheyenne Blaha, Lexi Sims and Taylor Sturgill had two hits each and Chelsea King added one hit.
In their second game the Jackets faced defending 8A state champion Durant High and won 2-0. Blaha led the way with three hits while Tonee Fabrizi, Lexi Sims, Rachael Imig, Taylor Pittman Alex Mace and Taylor Sturgill all contributed one each. Fabriz and Sims had two RBI. Chelsea King went the distance for Bartow allowing four hits and walking only one. Bartow managed to turn two double plays in the game.
In Saturday’s round Bartow faced a tough Lakewood Ranch team which was lead by pitcher Corrin Cline who is headed to the University of Tampa. The game was knotted at 1-1 through six innings but Bartow’s Deean Davis, who had been struggling at the plate, picked a great time to break out with a triple. Cheyenne Blaha then lofted one to score the go-ahead run and win the game.
That set the Jackets the championship game between Strawberry Crest High School, which was 17-1 against the Jackets.
Things looked bleak for the Jackets going in to the bottom of the seventh. Coach Glenn Rutenbar was hoping the Jackets could muster up some quality at bats and the players did that and more. They made two errors and hit a batter and Bartow made them pay.
The inning started off with consecutive hits by Blaha, Tonee Fabrizi then freshman Lexi Sims blasted a home run to center and you could hear the Bartow faithful saying, maybe just maybe.
Rachael Imig and Taylor Pittman reached on back-to-back errors. Then Stefani Walls had an infield single. Britney Meadows reached on a fielder’s choice scoring the fourth run. Davis was then hit by a pitch loading the bases when Blaha delivered the championship hit scoring two runs to give the Jackets the Championship 6-5 victory.
Chelsea King pitched the first six innings but was relieved by Brooke Farrer who got the win, Blaha was named the offensive MVP with an average of .692 and Lauren West received the defensive MVP for pitching two complete games.
Bartow hosted Lake Region on Tuesday, then will go to Braden River on Wednesday and finish out the week against Lakeland at lake Bonney.
At press time Bartow presently stands at 18-1 and ranked number one in Florida Class 7A.