SOFTBALL: Charlotte drops pitchers’ duel

By Steve Knapp, Sun Correspondent

Charlotte’s Tiffany Dodson and Sarasota’s Amanda Bush locked horns in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel in Charlotte Wednesday night. The Sailors came out with the 3-1 win as the Tarpons failed to get the key hit to turn the game around.

Dodson hit the lead-off hitter Lexi Johns and then threw a wild pitch to move the speedster to second. Johns scored on a checked swing single by Taryn Darley that was just inside the first-base line.

The Tarpons put two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the first on a walk to Haley Cabral and a two-base error on a dropped fly ball to center field. A strikeout and pop up ended the scoring threat.

There was nothing but bagels on the board until the sixth inning when the Sailors struck for two runs. Johns hit a triple off the left-field fence and scored when a ground ball to second was bobbled and the throw home was too late. Dodson had three come backers hit to her throughout the game, but Lindsey Richmond hit a screamer that got through the circle to knock in the final run.

Charlotte came back to score on a two-out double by freshman Alyssa Opsahl and a single by Marissa Stack in the bottom of the sixth. Bush fanned the side in the seventh to preserve the win.

The Tarpons left seven runners on base, including a bases-loaded situation in the fourth. Abby Hayse led off with a line drive single, and after a strikeout, Taylor Kirkus singled. Opsahl then walked to juice the bases but Stack followed with a fielder’s choice that nailed the runner at the plate before another strikeout ended the inning.

“Like Coach John (Hayse) says ‘we have to make our own luck, nobody’s going to give it to us’ so we have to get a key hit or make a play ourselves,” Stack said.

Stack also made the play of the game as she went into the hole from her shortstop position and back handed a bullet off the bat of Johns. A strong throw nipped Johns at first to end the seventh inning.

Bush fanned 11 Tarpons, with five of them “guilty of excessive window shopping,” including her first four strikeouts. Bush had a nice curve ball and a good off-speed change to go along with her blazing fastball. After Hayse’ first-inning fly ball, the Tarpons never got the ball out of the infield until Hayse’s single to open the fourth.

Dodson allowed just six hits as the Tarpon infield recorded 14 outs, including a double play in the first.

“We don’t have any weak sisters on our schedule and we need to learn how to beat a good team like that because we’re going to see more teams that are just as good,” Charlotte coach Greg Higgins said. “I don’t look at it as a loss, it is a learning experience. We just needed a little break here or there to turn it around. We gave ourselves a chance to win and that’s what you’ve got to do, just give yourself a chance.”

Sarasota 100 002 0 3 6 1
Charlotte 000 0010 1 5 1
WP: Amanda Bush. LP: Tiffany Dodson. Leading hitters: (S) Lexi Johns 1-3 2 R; Taryn Darley 1-3, RBI, R; (CH) Alyssa Opsahl 1-2, R; Marissa Stack 1-3, RBI.

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