North holds on for fifth straight title
Kendell Wylie wasn’t her typical dominating self in the pitching circle, but she more than made up for it at the plate.
Wylie hit two home runs and drive in five as the North Fort Myers High School softball team hung on to defeat Charlotte 9-8 in the District 5A-8 championship game in Punta Gorda Friday for the Red Knights’ fifth consecutive district crown.
Actually, hung on for dear life would be more accurate, as the Tarpons came back from an 8-2 deficit by scoring four in the sixth and, after North got one back in the top of the seventh, scored two more and had the tying run on base before a pop up ended the game.
North coach Jeff Miner said he was not surprised by Charlotte’s comeback after the Tarpons had beaten North in the regular season.
“It’s never easy. Charlotte is a great team and we had to score runs against them or you’re going to get beat,” Miner said. “We got that bunt down in the seventh. If we don’t, we go to extra innings with them having the momentum.”
North (22-5) jumped out early on Charlotte, chasing starting pitcher Laci Hendrickson from the game. Taylor Rosciti, who went 4-for-4 at the plate, doubled before Wylie hit her first home run. After Sarah Hamilton walked, she was sent home on an Alexis Morris double to make it 3-0.
Charlotte got a run back in the bottom of the first, but North countered in the second with a two-out rally off Charlotte reliever Dylan Anthony when Wylie delivered an RBI single to make it 4-1.
Charlotte (17-8) got a bases loaded walk from Faith Wharton in the third to cut the lead to two, but North looked like it would blow the game open after Wylie hit another home run in the fifth and Sarah Hamilton drove in another in the sixth (one of 16 North base hits) to make it 8-2.
Charlotte did not give up. Kassidy Hopper hit a two-run double and Savannah Jacobs an RBI double to go along with two North errors to cut the lead to 8-6 in the sixth.
Maddy Tejada’s RBI single gave North some cushion, and it would need all of it as Josalin Abel bunted in a run and Jacobs single home another to make it 9-8 before Anthony popped up to Wylie to end the game.
“It was a great game, we battled and hit really well. I was a little nervous when they came back, but I thought we could win,” Wylie said. “We knew they would throw first-pitch strikes and sit on her outside pitch and swing at something fat down the middle.”
“All our batters produced tonight, whether it was gap-hitting, bunts, we all produced,” Rosciti said. “We took the last game against Charlotte and adjusted to her and the outside corner balls and knowing they would throw a change-up at two strikes.”
Jacobs had three of Charlotte’s 13 hits with two runs and two RBI. Amber Chumley had two hits and two runs scored.
“It was a night where everything that could go wrong did. Those two home runs came on 0-2 pitches. We made a lot of mistakes tonight. I knew we would be there, but you can’t spot them that many runs,” Charlotte coach Greg Higgins said.