Amber VanHemel leaped to the left and floated through the air before crashing to the grass with a vital seventh inning fly out in North Broward Prep’s 2-1 victory over Coral Springs Charter on Monday in the District 14-4A final at Pine Crest.
“When the ball was hit my way, I wasn’t thinking,” VanHemel said. “I was just doing. I was ready because I hadn’t had a ball hit to me all night. I was eager to catch the ball. I was eager to make a play. It just happened to be a fantastic diving catch. I couldn’t have asked for a better moment to come through with that.”
The Eagles (9-6) scored twice in the first inning off a VanHemel single and stayed ahead behind ace Allison Muraskin. Muraskin allowed six hits, one unearned run and had four strikeouts in a complete-game effort. Paige Fairchild took the loss for the Panthers (20-5).
“With Charter it always seems to come down to the last pitch,” Eagles coach Kerry Kaser said.
“As the game went on, I got a little bit more comfortable. But in the sixth and seventh inning, when they are getting to the top of their order, you get some nerves. The nice thing about that is that we have players that can play with nerves.”
The Panthers’ only run came on an Eagles throwing error at first base in the sixth inning.
“It means the world for our team because we had yet to beat Charter,” VanHemel said of the win. “This is my third year playing on North Broward, and we finally got the win. It was like the insurmountable feat that we finally accomplished. We have more to go, and it’s exciting.”
After a 0-4 start to the season, the district champion Eagles host a regional game at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“Right out of the gate I’m scratching my head, but we kept pushing fundamentals and the drills,” Kaser said. “To see where this group started and where they are currently at, through a lot of hard work and time, I’m really proud of all of them. The cool thing about this team is that there is not one hero. They rely on each other. We have a lot of unselfish players. They understand the game is a team sport and they pull together. We make things happen and surprise some people. Which is fun to do. “