By Marty Pallman
VERO BEACH — The third time was the charm for the Union County Tigers softball team. And the fourth time wasn’t a charm for Chiefland.
Union County took advantage of six Chiefland errors to win the 1A state championship game 5-1 Thursday afternoon at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
It was the first state softball title for the Tigers (23-2) and ended a run of three straight 1A softball championships for Chiefland (21-7).
Union County junior pitcher Lexi Androlevich scattered four Chiefland hits and walked only one to finish with a final record of 18-1.
It was quite a contrast from Wednesday’s semifinal game for Androlevich, who hit three batters in a row and was pulled in the first inning of that game against Chipley.
The Tigers scored three runs in the bottom of the 7th to rally past Chipley 4-3 to advance to Thursday’s championship game.
The only earned run for Union County came in the first inning, when senior catcher Devin Lewis lined a double into the right field corner to make it 1-0. Lewis also had the game winning two-run double in the game against Chipley in the bottom of the 7th on Wednesday.
After Chiefland tied it in the third on an RBI double by Emily Hallman, Union County responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good.
The Indians committed two errors in that inning, and Union County eventually took the lead on an RBI’s from Lewis and Brooke Waters to make it 3-1.
Chiefland loaded the bases in the top of the 4th, but Androlevich worked out of the jam with a strikeout.
Union County kept adding to the lead in the 5th on an RBI single by Madelyn Kish, and added a final insurance run in the 6th as Macey Fulgham scored on an error to extend the Tigers lead to 5-1.
Kensley Durrance took the loss in the circle for Chiefland, despite allowing only one earned run on four hits. Hits between the two teams were even 4-4 but the six Indian errors were the difference as Union County beat Chiefland for the third time this year.
Chiefland says goodbye to six seniors, including Hallman, Sydney Parks, and Takiya London, who have been the backbone of a program that had won 1A state titles in 2014, 15, and 16.
The Indians scored two runs in their final at-bat of the state semfinal game on Wednesday to beat Wewahitchka 2-1 and advance back to the championship game.
This was Union County’s first state title game appearance as the Tigers lost to Wewahitchka in the 2016 semifinals and lost to Lafayette in the same round in 2012.
Union County had been the top-ranked team in the Miracle Sports State Softball Poll for most of this season.