Clements, one of three seniors playing their final game in a Shorter uniform, got the national title-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning against No. 3-ranked powerhouse Oklahoma City and NAIA Pitcher of the Year Lily LaVelle. Clements hit a hard grounder to the left of second baseman Angela Lovelady, scoring fellow senior Charlsie Broome from third after Broome had tripled to lead off the inning.
"I never actually saw Charlsie cross the plate," Clements admitted. "I was watching the second baseman. She got to the ball, but I just saw the most disappointed look on her face and I knew Charlsie had scored. Then I turned and looked at our first base coach and I started crying. It was crazy. It hasn't sunk it yet. Even now, it still doesn't feel like it happened."
But happen it did, and the ending couldn't have been more fitting for the two former LaFayette High School standouts.
College teams recruit players from many different cities and states in hopes of forming chemistry. But for Broome and Clements, that chemistry already existed, having been formed many years earlier on dusty softball diamonds.
"We started playing rec ball when we were 10 years old, so I can't think of a more awesome way for us to end our careers than by winning a national championship," Clements said. "For a while, we didn't even know we would be playing together in college, but we both ended up going to Shorter and we've worked so hard together.
"We've had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of wins and losses, but being seniors, we felt that (winning a national championship) was something that needed to be done. We had talked about it before, but once we made it to the final game, me, Charlsie, and (fellow senior) Brooke (Bryan) said 'let's go out with a bang'. For the three of us being the only seniors, it was an awesome way to end a career."
The championship game turned into a personal highlight reel for Broome, who was named as an All-American the following day. She went 3-for-4 against LaVelle and earned herself some celebrity status thanks to her actions in the top half of the ninth inning.
With two outs and both teams still looking for the first run of the game, Oklahoma City's LeeAnn Lopez sent a drive screaming toward the left-centerfield wall that had homerun written all over it.
Only the ball never made it to the ground.
Broome, a Southern States Athletic Conference Gold Glove winner, raced to the wall, reached up and snared the shot, before racing back to the dugout with her teammates - and the game's momentum - in tow. The catch, recorded by a production company filming the game, managed to find its way to Bristol, Conn. late Wednesday night as one of Sportscenter's Top 10 Plays on ESPN.
Then, for good measure, Broome laced a leadoff triple to start the bottom half of the inning. SSAC Player of the Year and fellow All-American Jackie Castaneda was walked and promptly stole second before Clements came through the final swing of the bat.
"We actually practice those catches with something we call 'the fence drill'," Shorter head coach Al Thomas said. "And Charlsie hates it. But I always told her that one day, that drill was going to pay off. It just so happened that the day it finally did was the last inning of the national championship game."
Broome said she felt a huge sense of relief when she crossed the plate.
"All I could say was 'Thank God"," she laughed. "We had pretty smooth sailing in every other game of the tournament, but here we were in the ninth inning, still 0-0, and it was getting stressful. So we told (pitcher) Maddie (Bray) that we wouldn't make her go back out there to throw another inning. We we were motivated to end it right there."
Bray, the SSAC Co-Freshman of the Year and an LFO alum, also did her part to help the Lady Hawks bring home the title. Bray earned tournament MVP honors after going 5-0 against some of the best teams the nation had to offer.
"Maddie really stepped up and matured a lot as the season went on," Thomas said. "She began to find her groove late in the year and she was just lights out all tournament long."
"This is the best team I've ever played with," Broome added. "We had talked in the past about winning a national championship, but I don't know if we actually believed we could until this year. It's bittersweet, but so perfect to end it like this."
LaFayette High School softball coach Glen Woodard, who watched the broadcast of the game online, called the moment "a proud one". Woodard's first year with the Lady Ramblers was the senior year for Broome and Clements, and the duo helped LaFayette to a school-record 27 wins and an appearance in the Class AA Elite Eight in Columbus.
"About halfway through that season, I knew I had some special players," he said. "I've enjoyed following them in the college and I'm just proud to say I know them. They came into college together and went out together as national champions, and that just makes it that much sweeter."
"They've both been here for four years and really bought into the team concept," Thomas said. "They both had career years as seniors, and that's the product of four years' of weight training, conditioning and mental preparation. To have played on the same high school team, and eventually team up to win a national title in college, wow, what a finishing touch to a wonderful career."