By Scott Lockwood, SunCoast Sports
His Lady Bobcats made him wait a little longer than usual in what turned out to be a 3-hour marathon against the Lady Indians. But his patience was rewarded when sophomore Kylie Murray sent a run-scoring double into right field in the top of the 13th inning to give North Port a 4-3 win in the district opener at Venice High School.
“I’m pretty pumped,” Bell said.
North Port established control early by notching a run in the top of the first and again in the third. Venice tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with a run-scoring sacrifice by Elsie Rivera and a bunt single by Antonia Rosa.
Pitchers Haley Adrian of Venice and Ashley Nelson dug their heels in over the next five innings. Each team had chances to win the game but key plays by their defenses — including two flyouts with the potential winning run on third base for Venice — kept the game going well into the night.
“We’re just not getting those runners across the plate when it’s time,” Venice coach Steve Constantino said. “We’ve got to get that key hit to win. We didn’t get it and they did. We gave them everything we had out there. I can’t ask my kids to do anything different than they did tonight.”
The teams traded runs in the ninth before the stalemate continued for another four innings. Constantino pulled Adrian, who finished with nine strikeouts, in the top of the 13th for Syd Seibert. With two outs on the board and runners first and second, Murray sent the shot to right that brought Skylar Poitras across the plate for the go-ahead run.
Murray said she was going up to the plate just looking to get the run in.
“I was really just hitting for my team at that time because I really wanted to win,” she said. “Beating Venice was definitely a target for us to hit this year and we came into this game so fired up to beat them. We probably could have gone another couple of innings because of our fire and how we wanted to beat them.”
Nelson, who threw 143 pitches in going the distance, held off Venice in the bottom of the inning for the win — the second extra-inning win for the Lady Bobcats since Friday.
That’s 23 innings we’ve played since Friday,” Bell said. “The girls battled. I can’t say anything more about Ashley Nelson. She’s a bulldog. I kept wanting to pull her but she kept getting the outs when we needed her to. It’s hard to have a loser in a game like this.”
NORTH PORT 4, VENICE 3 (13 Innings)
North Port 101 001 001 000 1 – 4 7 2
Venice 000 200 001 000 0 – 3 9 1
WP: Ashley Nelson. LP: Haley Adrian. Leading hitters: Taylor Koohns (NP) 4-6, 2B, RBI. Haley Hendricks (V) 3-6. Records: North Port (8-2, 1-0), Venice (3-4, 0-1).