By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
Much like its baseball counterparts, Charlotte’s softball team has been the most dominant team in the area through the first portion of the season. The Tarpons have won nine of their 11 games and feature a high-powered offense averaging eight runs per game, with six batters hitting over .350.
Over in North Port, the Bobcats are proving they’re not the same team from a season ago. North Port has already won more games (8) than it did last year (6), largely thanks to starting pitchers Ashley Nelson and Liberty Pence, both of whom are freshmen.
Port Charlotte has had its ups and downs due to errors and pitching, but is winning its district games with a 5-2 record. The offense has been there for the Pirates, led by Brittany Ferrentino’s scorching average of .515, which is tops in the area. Seaaira Yiengst is right behind her hitting .474, leading the team with 11 RBI.
For Lemon Bay, it’s been a struggle through 11 games, going 4-7 overall but 1-0 in district. But behind the strong hitting of Bailey Grossenbacher and the emergence of freshman Christian Chandler, the Manta Rays are still focused on grabbing the No. 1 seed come district tournament time.
Season record: 9-2 (1-1 in District 7A-11)
Season record: 8-4 (1-1 in District 7A-11)
Season record: 5-6 (5-2 in District 6A-11)
Season record: 4-7 (1-0 in District 5A-12)
Coming of age
Charlotte senior Tiffany Dodson has been doing it with her bat and her arm so far this season. Her coming out party was against reigning Class 5A state champion Bishop Verot when she threw two-hit, complete-game shutout. She’s 4-0 as a starter with an area-best ERA of 1.32 while also tearing the skin off the softball, leading the team in RBI (13) and home runs (2) while hitting .414.
A pair of North Port freshmen have been stifling opposing hitters this season. Ashley Nelson and Liberty Pence both have ERAs under 2.00, helping the Bobcats get off to an 8-2 start before dropping their last two games before spring break. Nelson has posted a 1.36 ERA in 41 innings pitched while Pence is throwing a 1.75 in 28 innings.
Port Charlotte began the season with five losses before winning five of six heading into spring break. Seaaira Yiengst was a key contributor as a freshman in 2016 and that hasn’t changed in 2017. Despite fighting through injury, she leads the area with 46 strikeouts, 16 more than the secondmost in the area, and has helped propel the Pirates in their recent streak.
Lemon Bay coach Kim Pinkham said her team should be more refreshed coming back from spring break this week. The Manta Rays won their first three games of the season before losing seven straight heading into their district opener against Lake Placid on March 10. That game ended the skid, a 6-2 win that Pinkham hopes springs her team in the right direction as it nears April.
HITTING (minimum 10 at-bats)
Player School H AB AVG
Brittany Ferrentino Port Charlotte 17 33 .515
Seaaira Yiengst Port Charlotte 9 19 .474
Kaylee Brannon Charlotte 16 34 .471
Bailey Grossenbacher Lemon Bay 15 32 .469
Kylie Murray North Port 20 44 .454
Haley Cabral Charlotte 12 27 .444
Jaiden Dabney Port Charlotte 16 37 .432
Aimee Holt Lemon Bay 13 31 .419
Abby Hayes Charlotte 15 36 .417
Skylar Poitras North Port 10 24 .416
Tiffany Dodson Charlotte 12 29 .414
Ashley Nelson North Port 14 34 .411
Marissa Stack Charlotte 11 30 .367
Alyssa Opsahl Charlotte 10 28 .357
Taylor Kirkus 12 34 Charlotte .353
Taylor Innello Port Charlotte 8 23 .348
Alyssa Allred Port Charlotte 7 21 .333
Christain Chandler Lemon Bay 12 36 .333
Karlie Sweiderk Lemon Bay 8 25 .320
Kaitlyn Hopper Charlotte 7 22 .318
3: Brianna Mitchell North Port.
2: Tiffany Dodson Charlotte.
1: Kaylee Brannon Charlotte, Taylor Kirkus Charlotte, Brooke Kvaternick Lemon Bay, Alyssa Opsahl Charlotte, Cortney Senna North Port, Seaaria Yiengst Port Charlotte.
RUNS BATTED IN
13: Tiffany Dodson, Taylor Kirkus Charlotte, Brianna Mitchell North Port.
11: Seaaira Yiengst Port Charlotte.
10: Jaiden Dabney Port Charlotte.
9: Ali Eugenius Port Charlotte, Taylor Koohns North Port, Kasi Shaffer Lemon Bay.
8: Bailey Grossenbacher Lemon Bay, Nadia Playter North Port.
7: Alyssa Allred Port Charlotte, Kaylee Brannon Charlotte, Abby Hayse Charlotte 7, Brooke Kvaternick Lemon Bay.
6: Brittany Ferrentino Port Charlotte, Alyssa Opshal Charlotte.
5: Christain Chandler Lemon Bay, Aimee Holt Lemon Bay, Taylor Innello Port Charlotte, Logan Johnson Lemon Bay, Nicole Kroush Port Charlotte.
PITCHING (min. 10 innings)
Player School W-L IP K ERA
Tiffany Dodson Charlotte 4-0 28.1 24 1.32
Ashley Nelson North Port 3-2 41.0 25 1.36
Liberty Pence North Port 4-2 28.0 26 1.75
Nadia Playter North Port 1-0 10.0 9 2.10
Julie Dedrick Charlotte 5-2 35.1 30 2.86
Bailey Grossenbacher Lemon Bay 1-4 33.0 19 3.61
Seaaira Yiengst Port Charlotte 0-0 40.0 46 4.03
Logan Johnson Lemon Bay 3-3 34.0 15 4.94
Ali Eugenius Port Charlotte 0-0 15.1 8 7.30
Alexis Carpenter Port Charlotte 0-0 11.1 3 12.35
Note: Pitching records weren’t provided by Port Charlotte