By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — It was a fantastic opening night for one area team.
And a dreadful one for another.
Ashley Nelson pitched a three-hitter and North Port High School tallied 14 hits to roll to a 13-3 home win over Port Charlotte Monday night in a game that ended in the sixth inning due to the mercy rule.
Nadia Playter, Taylor Koohns, Cortney Senna and Kylie Murray each drove in two runs apiece, with Playter’s RBI single ending the game in the sixth. Playter went 4-for-5 with a double while Senna crushed a solo home run to centerfield that bounced right off of the flagpole to lead off the sixth.
Murray went 3-for-4 with a triple and Koohns went 2-for-4 with a double as the Bobcats never trailed. Nelson also reached base five times, drawing four walks to go along with a single.
“Ashley Nelson kept us in the game the whole time, got ahead early and stayed there,” North Port coach Dennis Bell said. “Our bats came out at the beginning, we slowed down a little bit and then we came back strong so I couldn’t be happier.”
Nelson only surrendered one earned run in a complete-game performance with three strikeouts and three walks. The Pirates picked up two unearned runs in the third inning on a 2-RBI double by Jaiden Dabney and later added their lone earned score on an RBI groundout by Brittany Ferrentino in the fifth.
“We’ve got to execute when we need to. We’ve got to go up there swinging with a purpose instead of just swinging to hope to hit the ball,” Port Charlotte coach Ryann Baker said. “(North Port) went up there and they had no fear. When they swing the bat they mean it and right now we don’t have that.”
Seaira Yiengst pitched the whole game for the Pirates, giving up 10 earned runs in five and two-thirds innings with four strikeouts, five walks and two hit batters. She fell behind right from the start as she surrendered four runs in the first inning, with the first two coming via a passed ball and a wild pitch.
Murray and Koohns each scored to put the Bobcats ahead 2-0 before Senna added another run with an RBI single to bring Nelson home. She later scored on an error to double North Port’s lead.
Port Charlotte got two runs back on Dabney’s RBI single in the third but North Port answered right away with two more runs in the fourth on a 2-RBI double by Koohns. Ferrentino’s single made it 6-3 in the top of the fifth, but North Port scored three more runs in the bottom half of the inning to pull away.
Skylar Poitras scored on a wild pitch before Nelson and Playter hit back-to-back RBI singles for a 9-3 lead. North Port scored four more runs in the sixth, with the first coming courtesy of Senna’s homerun that ricocheted off the flagpole before falling back into the stadium.
“She couldn’t do that again if she tried,” Bell joked of Senna’s direct hit. “When we came out here before the game started the wind was blowing out and I said if the girls get it up in the air it could go. She finally got one up and I thought it was a no doubter and then it stayed in the park. I thought ‘okay, what happened?’ But no, they played great. I couldn’t be prouder.”
After Poitras was hit by a pitch and Kamryn Nazario reached base on an error, Murray drilled a 2-RBI triple into left field for a 12-3 lead. Playter brought her home with a single to finish off the win.
NORTH PORT 13, PORT CHARLOTTE 3
Port Charlotte 002 010 x — 3 3 2
North Port 400 234 x — 13 14 2
WP: Ashley Nelson. LP: Seaira Yiengst. Leading hitters: Nadia Playter (NP) 4-5, 1 R, 2B, 2 RBI; Jaiden Dabney (PC) 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI. Records: North Port 1-0, Port Charlotte 0-1.