By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Errors bit the Port Charlotte softball team hard in Thursday night’s contest against Booker.
The Pirates committed six errors in the game, four of which came in the first inning, an inning where the Tornadoes sent 11 batters to the plate to score six runs. Port Charlotte never recovered and Booker held off a late rally for a 9-6 victory, snapping the Pirates’ four-game winning streak.
Booker scored seven unearned runs in the game, including five in the first inning.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” Port Charlotte coach Ryann Baker said. “We came out thinking this was a sure win and I told them, ‘every game we play, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you just can’t take them lightly.’ And we did and they hit the ball.”
Port Charlotte committed three straight errors to start the game, allowing one run to score before Mackenzie Everhart delivered a two-run double to put Booker ahead 3-0. Josie McCrea immediately reached on Port Charlotte’s fourth error, which allowed Everhart to score.
Pirates pitcher Ali Eugenius allowed Booker to load the bases when she surrendered an infield single to Amanda O’Connor and then hit Jada Saunders with a pitch. Shaniya Bane followed with an infield single to put the Tornadoes ahead 5-0 before the Pirates even recorded an out. Eugenius finally got hitter No. 9 Maila Morrow to ground out to second base but even that ball allowed O’Connor to score to put the Pirates in a 6-0 hole.
Port Charlotte started the season with seven straight loses but had won four in a row, largely in part to mistake-free softball. That certainly wasn’t the case Thursday night.
When the Pirates weren’t making errors, they allowed back-breaking hits, including a solo home run to Terrionna Smith to lead off the second inning. Eugenius only lasted three innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits.
“We’ve been playing errorless ball, believe or not. You probably wouldn’t think that after the first three batters but we were not making any throwing errors. We were looking the ball into our glove. Today it was crazy for some reason,” Baker said.
McCrea started on the mound for Booker and took a no-hitter into the fourth inning before giving up a single to Jaiden Dabney.
Seairra Yiengst followed with a triple to get the Pirates on the board, and she later scored on a single by Kalie Brethold to cut Booker’s lead to 7-2.
Yiengst, who went 2-for-3 at the plate, took over for Eugenius in the fourth inning and pitched the rest of the game. She struck out five and only gave up one hit, which came in another error-filled inning.
Booker scored two unearned runs on two more errors in the sixth to take a 9-2 lead. The Tornadoes committed two errors themselves in the bottom half of the inning that actually allowed the Pirates to score two unearned runs.
Port Charlotte staged a bit of a rally in the seventh, sending eight batters to plate. Yiengst singled to score Brittany Ferrentino, and Dabney later scored on an error to pull the Pirates to within 9-6. They had the bases loaded with only one out, but McCrea got back-to-back groundball outs to finish off the win.
McCrea finished with three strikeouts and gave up three earned runs on seven hits, while scattering six walks.
“We just gave them too much of a lead in the first inning. They hit the ball and we waited too late,” Baker said.
BOOKER 9, PORT CHARLOTTE 6
Booker 610 002 0 — 9 7 3
Port Charlotte 000 202 2 — 6 7 6
WP: Josie McCrea. LP: Ali Eugenius. Top hitters: (B) Terrionna Smirth 1-4, HR, 2 R; Mackenzie Everhart 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R; (PC) Seairra Yiengst 2-3, 3B, 2 RBI, BB, 2 R. Records: Booker 6-5, Port Charlotte 4-8.