All-Area softball: Chelsea Brandt, American Heritage, small schools player of the year
Saturday, June 04, 2011
by Jeff Greer
Chelsea Brandt's pitching at the Class 2A state tournament mirrored her team's season.
American Heritage started the season slowly, winning just one of its first seven games. The Stallions then won 22 of their final 25 games, capped by the school's first state championship in softball.
In the first inning of the state semifinal, Brandt faced nine batters, threw 31 pitches and allowed three runs.
But she didn't give up a run in the 13 innings after that, displaying the same smiling confidence she'd shown all season.
"It still gives me goose bumps," Brandt said two weeks after winning the state title. "It kind of just hit me - we had first-inning jitters (in the state semifinals) - but I never doubted our potential or that we could win it."
Brandt finished 14-4 on the mound and hit .408 with 13 steals.
When she wasn't pitching, Brandt flawlessly played center field, posting a perfect fielding percentage. But if you asked her teammates or coaches, it was Brandt's personality and leadership that the Stallions appreciated the most.
American Heritage coach Kevin Drake called Brandt the Stallions' rock.
When Brandt and her team fell behind 3-0 in the state semifinals, "she was smiling like she always does," sophomore Marissa Mangini said after that game. "That's who she is, and we get our confidence from her."
Brandt will study at Florida State this fall. She and the other two American Heritage seniors have played their last competitive softball game.
They ended on the best possible note, completing American Heritage's dramatic turnaround and finishing Brandt's spectacular recovery at the state tournament.
"I don't even have words to describe it," Brandt said. "(The seniors) looked at each other and realized we couldn't have done anything greater to end our careers.
"It's the best feeling in the world."
Phenomenal defensive catcher with a strong arm; also hit .400.
Posted area-best batting average (.603) and RBI (39).
Five-tool player batted .368 with 26 stolen bases.
Jr., 1st base
Solid-fielding; hit for major power (.466, 36 RBI).
Team's only senior batted .451 and hit three homers.
Maybe the area's best fielder; hit .519 from lead-off spot.
Excellent slap-hitter led state champs with .458 batting average.
Hit .373, helping Lions win regular-season district title.
Forced into pitching role for a young team; hit .494, with 34 RBI.
She was 17-2, led Pride to second straight state-title game.
Struck out 186, batted .400 to help team to first-ever regional final.
Carried a young team, winning 13 games with 184 strikeouts.
C: Abbi Wikel, Cardinal Newman, Sr.
C: Alison Flinn, Berean Christian, Jr.
C: Geena Capitini, Grandview Prep, Jr.
IF: Jessie Mohl, American Heritage, Fr.
IF/P: Hunter Scharf, Grandview Prep, So.
IF: Mackenzie Morrell, Lake Worth Christian, Jr.
OF: Marissa Samaniego, Grandview Prep, So.
OF: Cali Gumpel, Wellington Christian, 8th
FLEX: Kristen Wright, King's Academy, 8th
P: Caitlin Grecz, St. Andrew's, Fr.
P/IF: Calli Norton, Pope John Paul II, Fr.
P: Kali Chaplin, Benjamin, So.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Kevin Drake, American Heritage
Team started slow, but he kept his lineup largely the same en route to a state championship.
American Heritage Alex Dishman, Claire Dunlap, Amanda Edelmann, Ashley Niesman; Benjamin Jessica Armstrong; Berean Christian Kate-Lyn Dickerson, Emily May, Rachel Romnosky; Boca Raton Christian Laura Giesler, Jensen Strandberg, Rachel Taylo ; Cardinal Newman Jourdan Popovics, Bryn Drohan; Glades Day Amanda Bock, Jessica Onega, Caitlin Waites; Grandview Prep Jesse Harms, Kaitlin Conrad, Summer Burgess; Jupiter Christian Lauren Harpster, Loren Kilgore, Kiana Rivera; King's Academy Brooke McLeod; Lake Worth Christian Jessica Golden, Alexis Muniz; Pope John Paul II Kristina Porzenheim; St. Andrew's Kim Boshart, Elle Pechiney; Summit Christian Andrea Nigels; Wellington Christian Mackenzie Brock, Amanda Dill, Alexa Elkins.
BEST OF THE TREASURE COAST
Centennial-Dana Ensmenger, Kadie Maurer; Fort Pierce Central-Courtney Looney; Jensen Beach-Emma Haley, Carol Giuffrida; John Carroll-Kayla Miller; Lincoln Park-Taylor Strickland; Martin County-Courtney Noonan; Port St. Lucie-Whitney Woodson; Okeechobee-LeAnna Cotton, Taylor Douglas; Treasure Coast-Marilyn Suarez.