WARNER ROBINS -- Feigning nonchalance, Floridas Amanda Fleming suggested that the moment -- tie game, bottom of the sixth inning, two on, two out, 3-2 pitch -- wasnt too big.
Ive been in that situation before, she said.
Really? The bat in her hands with a chance to send your team to the Little League World Series?
OK, Fleming said, back-tracking. Now Ive been in that situation one time.
And her record for delivering is perfect.
Fleming broke a tie game with a clutch single that drove home two runs and sparked Florida to an 8-4 victory over North Carolina in the championship game of the Little League Softball Southeastern Regional Tournament on Monday. Fleming and her teammates will represent the region at the Little League World Series in Portland, Ore., beginning Aug. 9.
I was just concentrating on trying to hit the ball, Fleming said.
Flemings hit made a winner of Florida starting -- and closing -- pitcher Lauren Mathis. The right-hander pitched five shutout innings. All of North Carolinas runs came in the third inning when Mathis was not in the circle.
Mathis was also the winning pitcher in Floridas 5-3 semifinal win over West Virginia earlier Monday. She pitched nine innings in all, the maximum allowable in one day according to Little League rules. Mathis allowed two hits and struck out 14 in the two outings combined.
I was pumped, Mathis said. I wanted to win. I was looking for strikeouts, but I knew I had a good defense behind me.
Defensive mistakes proved to be North Carolinas downfall in the title game. The defending region champions survived a three-error performance in a 7-4 semifinal win over previously unbeaten Virginia on Monday afternoon. North Carolina wasnt as fortunate against Florida, which turned four North Carolina errors into seven unearned runs.
Florida took a 2-0 lead with a pair of unearned runs in the first inning. Florida then tied the game at 4 in the fourth inning when Fleming scored from third on a two-out error by the North Carolina second baseman. Floridas winning sixth-inning rally began when shortstop Maria Pagane reached base after an error by her North Carolina counterpart. Each of four runs Florida scored in the sixth inning were unearned.
By contrast, Floridas defense was solid.
North Carolina went ahead 4-2 after a four-run third inning off Panane, who relieved Mathis for an inning. Brooke McNeil tripled to lead off the inning for North Carolina. She and Lillie Anderson scored on Brooke Phillips two-run single.
North Carolina scored two more runs in the inning, but Floridas defense stepped up before things got out of hand.
North Carolina catcher Kailey McNeil was thrown out at home plate for the second out of the inning. Two batters later, Mathis made a good play from shortstop to end the inning with the help of a good stretch from first-baseman Marissa Sidwell.