By Steve McKay, Sun Correspondent
PORT CHARLOTTE — Port Charlotte junior Alexis Carpenter kept the DeSoto County Bulldogs off balance while her teammates tried to solve the mystery of the hard throwing Bulldog junior Hannah England.
Eventually, the Bulldogs got the key hits that they were missing earlier in the game and scored six times in the sixth inning before holding off the Pirates for an 8-3 win.
Carpenter was in more jams than a judge at a county fair, but managed to keep the Bulldogs off the board through the first four innings.
“I guess it was just luck that kept them from scoring in the first four innings. I wish I had some fancy pitch to throw to get them out but I didn’t. Still, it was one of my best games this season,” Carpenter said.
The Bulldogs left eight runners on base through the first four innings, including six in scoring position. Even when they finally scored in the fifth they left the bases loaded for the third straight inning. All eleven of the game’s runs came in the final three innings.
“That’s what we’ve been telling our pitchers all year. If you’re facing a good hitting team, why do we throw our speed pitcher out there? That’s what they’ve seen all year so why not give them something different to look at?” Port Charlotte coach Ryann Baker said. “It took (DeSoto) longer to adjust to her this time than it did the first game that we played them. All we want (Carpenter) to do is throw strikes and let our defense play behind her.”
Carpenter was pulled from the mound after issuing her fifth and sixth walks of the game to open the fifth inning. She allowed only three hits in four innings, but the plate was dancing for her as she struggled to find the strike zone. Carpenter hit two batters and walked seven (she reentered to pitch in the sixth inning).
Seaaira Yiengst gave up a single on her first pitch to load the bases with no outs. A high hopper back to Yiengst forced her to jump for the ball and she landed on her sprained ankle from her previous game. Yiengst was unable to make the play at the plate as the Bulldogs broke the stalemate.
DeSoto County scored six times in the sixth as the leadoff hitter again reached base on a free pass.
Dekoda Johnson, who was left stranded on third base after a one out triple in the first inning, hit a one hopper off the left field fence to score a run. Johnson scored on a wild pitch as the Bulldogs put together two doubles and three walks along with two costly Pirate errors to give them a 7-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth.
Taylor Innello started the sixth inning rally with her second single. Innello was the only Pirate to get on base in a 15-batter span. England had retired 17 straight hitters without a ball leaving the infield, including five ground balls back to the circle and three of them in a row.
Innello was sacrificed to third as a late throw across the diamond put the first Pirate in scoring position since the first inning. Jaiden Dabney was plunked by a fastball to put runners on the corners. Julie Klein then grounded out to score Innello.
Brittany Ferrentino doubled in Dabney and later scored on a base hit by Alyssa Allred.
DESOTO COUNTY 8, PORT CHARLOTTE 3
DeSoto County 000 016 1 — 8 7 1
Port Charlotte 000 003 0 — 3 7 4
WP: England. LP: Carpenter. Leading hitters: (PC) Brittany Ferrentino 2-3, R, 1 RBI; Jaiden Dabney 2-3, R; Taylor Innello 2-3 R; (DC) Hannah England 3-5, 2 2B R; Dekoda Johnson 2-5, 3B, 2B, R, RBI.