By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent
CAPE CORAL — You couldn’t have asked for much more from North Port’s softball team Thursday night.
The pitching was there, the defense was there and the offense was definitely there as the Bobcats clobbered Cape Coral 18-0 in a non-district matchup.
“My team could’ve come out here and let up” after grabbing a 13-0 lead in three innings, Bobcats coach Dennis Bell said. “But they didn’t. They kept their foot on the gas all night and got the job done.
“I’m proud of them.”
Freshman pitcher Liberty Pence struck out nine for the Bobcats (5-1) while holding Cape Coral to two hits — only one actually got out of the infield — and a walk. Pence struck out the side in the second and fifth innings.
Only one runner got as far as second base for the Seahawks (1-3).
“My pitcher, Libby, she did a great job tonight,” Bell said. “Hit her spots. Took care of business like she should have.”
The Bobcats defense pitched in with a double play in the third inning, erasing the only Seahawk to reach by a walk. And then there were the hits.
Clean hits, bad-hop hits, misplayed fly balls — the hits just kept on coming for the Bobcats. North Port wound up with 15 hits, plus three players reaching on walks and three more on Cape Coral errors.
North Port got contributions on offense up and down the lineup.
“One through nine, I’m confident they’ll hit the ball,” Bell said.
Leadoff hitter Kylie Murray, a sophomore shortstop, reached four times and scored three runs.
“She’s pretty consistent for us,” Bell said of Murray. “So far she’s been really consistent all the way around.”
Senior Taylor Koohns also scored three times. Senior Brianna Mitchell was 3-for-4 with four RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base for North Port.
Nadia Playter, a freshman, went 3-for-5 with three RBI, and junior Cortney Senna went 2-for-4 with a an RBI triple and two runs scored.
And even with the game well in hand, the Bobcats didn’t let up. Senior catcher Skyler Poitras fouled off pitch after pitch in the top of the fifth, finally drawing a walk — and eventually coming home to score.
“She battled, fouled off I don’t know how many balls,” Bell said. “I lost count.”
North Port has three more non-district games coming up at home next week, beginning Tuesday with Sarasota Booker. District 7A-11 competition starts March 7 at Venice.
“We’ll take this win, and come back to practice and get ready for next week,” Bell said.
NORTH PORT 18, CAPE CORAL 0
North Port 427 05 — 18 15 0
Cape Coral 000 00 — 0 3 3
WP: Liberty Pence. LP: Alyssa Mellaci. Leading hitters: (NP) Brianna Mitchell 3-4, 4 RBI, 3R, 2B, SB; Nadia Playter 3-5 3RBI, 2B, 2R. Records: North Port 5-1, Cape Coral 1-3.