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North rallies past Hollins in regional opener

By CHUCK BALLARO - | May 7, 2021

Taylor Rosciti hit an inside-the-park home run to highlight a three-run fifth inning as the North Fort Myers High School softball team rallied to defeat Dixie-Rollins 7-5 in the first round of the Region 5A-2 championship Thursday.

North will go on to host Palmetto in the regional semifinals Tuesday, May 11, at 7 p.m. Palmetto defeated Charlotte, 3-2, Thursday to advance.

North and Palmetto exchanged the lead several times before that decisive inning. With the Red Knights training 4-3 in the fifth, Rosciti drove the ball to right field that glanced off the glove of Rylie Geer and rolled all the way to the wall in the cavernous field, allowing Rosciti to score standing up to tie the game.

“I popped up my first time up, so I had to make the adjustment to the outside pitch,” Rosciti said. “They didn’t pitch as fast as Charlotte. I timed it up and made the adjustment.”

Kendall Wylie then tripled to chase Hollins starter Madasyn Hensley and after a walk to Sarah Hamilton, Alexis Morris hit a sacrifice fly to center. Hamilton, who had stolen second, tagged up on the play and went to third, then came around to score on a throwing error to give North the lead for good at 6-4.

Dixie-Hollins hung tough. April Dominguez doubled and came home on Mikki Hayes’ RBI single in the sixth. The Rebels loaded the bases with one out, however a force out at home and a grounder to third ended the threat.

Wylie, who pitched a complete game, also had three hits, two RBI and two runs scored. She added an RBI single in the sixth to give North a cushion and retired the side in order in the seventh.

North (23-5) scored first as Wylie drove home Desirae Devine with a single. Only a great defensive play by Dominguez held North to the one run as the over-the-shoulder catch saved at least two runs.

That play gave the Rebels some momentum as they took the lead in the second on a two-run single by MacKenzie Wilfert to make it 2-1.

North retook the lead in the third as a wild pitch allowed Wylie to score before Kirsten Gnagey tripled home another to make it 3-2.

Hollins countered in the fourth. After a leadoff walk, Geer slapped a ball to left that Destiny Rodriguez played into a four-base error that gave the Rebels a 4-3 lead, setting up the finish.

Devine scored twice and had two hits for North. Wylie struck out eight and walked three while giving up six hits in the circle.

“When you get into these playoff games, anything is fair game. Hollins hit the ball well, played great defense, and every time we would score, they would score,” North coach Jeff Miner said. “Their right fielder made three great plays to keep them in the ball game and the left fielder made a play that resulted in a four-run swing.”

Dominguez had two doubles and two runs scored. Hayes scored twice and drove in a run for the Rebels.

Hollins coach Robin Brady said she could do nothing but be proud of her team’s effort.

“They have raised their level of play since we got to districts and we just couldn’t get that big hit in a couple innings,” Brady said. “We expected North to come out and hit. It’s tough for that to happen in the playoffs. To keep coming back like we did showed how evenly matched we were.”

Dixie Hollins finished the season with an 11-10 record.