By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — Charlotte’s softball team keeps on slugging and streaking.
Alyssa Opsahl and Tiffany Dodson hit back-to-back home runs in a five-run third inning Thursday night as the Tarpons rolled to their sixth straight win, a 10-2 romp over Riverdale. Nine of Charlotte’s 10 runs were unearned as the Raiders committed six errors.
The Tarpons (7-1) finished with nine hits and put 17 runners on base. They’ve now scored at least seven runs in five straight games.
“The discipline at the plate with the bats has been key,” Charlotte coach Greg Higgins said. “They’re not pressing, they’re not going after pitches that they shouldn’t, they’re just waiting on that pitch that they need and then when they get it, they do something with it.
“Our problem before was we’ve always been very aggressive and went after it and then we hit that good pitching and we let it go. Now we’re being much more patient and much more discipline at the plate. We’re a lot more mature as a team this year than last year.”
The second of Riverdale’s errors came in the third inning with two outs. The miscue allowed Kaylee Brannon to score from third to break a scoreless tie while Kirkus reached first safely to keep the inning alive. That proved to be a back-breaker for the Raiders as Opsahl bombed a two-run homer off Riverdale pitcher Jade Abrams over the centerfield wall before Dodson followed with a solo liner to the same part of the park.
Instead of a scoreless tie heading into the fourth, the Tarpons led 5-0.
“She pitched meat balls,” Opsahl said of Abrams.
Added Dodson: “They were right down the middle. She really didn’t have any spin on it.”
Julie Dedrick pitched through a cold and threw a complete game for Charlotte, striking out seven while giving up two earned runs on six hits. She gave up a two-out, RBI double to Stephanie Mendoza in the fourth and an RBI single to Amber Lynn in the seventh.
Mendoza’s RBI cut into the Tarpons’ 5-0 lead but they got a run right back in the bottom half of the inning an on RBI single by Abby Hayse, who went 2-for-4.
Alex Driscoll replaced Abrams to begin the fifth but her defense let her down with two more errors, which led to four unearned runs on the same play. Brannon sent a fly ball into right field with the bases loaded that was misplayed, allowing Haley Cabral and Alaena Massey to score.
As Brannon reached second and Erica Barnes rounded third, Riverdale catcher Giselle Gomez sent a throw down the third-base line that sailed into left field, rolling all the way to the wall to clear the bases.
Suddenly, it was 10-1.
“I don’t know if she thought she was playing dodgeball or what, but she zipped it down here. All of a sudden I was like, ‘here we go, let’s get the pony wagon going,’” Higgins said of the play. “But we’ve been on the other side of those errors and if you make errors against a good team, it’s going to bite you.”
CHARLOTTE 10, RIVERDALE 2
Riverdale 000 100 1 — 2 6 6
Charlotte 005 140 x — 10 9 0
WP: Julie Dedrick. LP: Jade Abrams. Top hitters: (C) Alyssa Opsahl 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R; Tiffany Dodson 1-3, HR, RBI, R; Abby Hayse 2-4, RBI. Records: Charlotte 7-1, Riverdale 3-2.