Gainesville advances to first state semifinal

Gainesville High School's Katie Chronister hits a two-run double during the 6A Regional Softball Final against Eau Gallie High School, in Gainesville Monday. The Purple Hurricanes beat Eau Gallie 2-1 to advance in the state tournament.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.

Led by freshman Katie Chronister, Gainesville High School booked its first trip to the Class 6A state softball tournament Monday with a 2-1 win against Melbourne Eau Gallie.

The host Hurricanes (20-8) had to take down a titan to get there in this Region 2 final, facing a tough team in the Commodores (19-11). Eau Gallie was vying for its seventh trip to the final four, including a state title in 2011.

“We're riding a wave at the end of the season, which is where we wanted to be at this time,” Gainesville coach Pete Mariano said. “For us, it's surreal, really. For us with a team this young and the way we started, to be in the final four is just amazing.”

Gainesville will travel to the state tournament in Vero Beach to face Pembroke Pines Charter (20-3), which defeated Naples 2-0 last Friday. The semifinal is set for 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Facing a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning Monday, the Hurricanes opened the rally that tilted the game in their favor.

Starting with Brittany Lewis reaching first on an error, Tiffany Donovan followed with a bunt single, just beating the throw to first. Amanda Donovan followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners to second and third. That's when Chronister ripped a double to left, scoring Lewis and Tiffany Donovan to put the game away.

“I didn't know what to expect, but if this is what I'm feeling, then it must be right,” Chronister said. “I'm thrilled, I just don't know what to say. It's crazy how we got here.”

Chronister was also a force on the mound for Gainesville, pitching a complete game while giving up only four hits and striking out four.

“She has been absolutely remarkable,” Mariano said of Chronister. “Her demeanor is so awesome for a freshman, it just belies her age. She gets out there and nothing seems to faze her.”

Eau Gallie took a 1-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI-double from cleanup hitter Mackenzie Conley.

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