PUNTA GORDA – Kassidy Hopper and Alyssa Opsahl had three hits and drove in two runs as the Charlotte High School softball team fought off a Lemon Bay comeback to register a 10-6 victory Tuesday on senior night.
Sydney Thomas had two hits and drove in two, and pitched five strong innings after giving up an early home run, and Lauren Bell, hitting in the No. 9 spot, had two hits and scored twice.
It was an uneven performance by the Tarpons (15-6), but coach Greg Higgins will take it.
“We made a couple errors and they found us in a hurry. It was senior night and they got a little lackadaisical. A lot of senior nights you don’t win because there’s so much going on,” Higgins said.
On a night made for the seniors on their final regular season home game, it is often the underclassmen who make the biggest impact, which is what Opsahl and Hopper, a junior and freshman, did.
“It was a bit emotional early, but we knew we had to get it together and keep the energy up,” Opsahl said. “You need to stay focused, trust yourself and your teammates.”
Christain Chandler got Lemon Bay on the board first with a two-run home run into left field in the first inning. Charlotte got it back and then some in the bottom of the inning on an Opsahl single and a two-run single from Thomas to make it 3-2.
Charlotte appeared to break the game open in the second with a four spot. Following an error that brought home a run, Malerie Busha drove in another with a single before Hopper doubled home another and Savannah Jacobs singled to make it 7-2.
Opsahl had an RBI single in the fourth, and Busha and Hopper drove in runs in the fifth to make it 10-2, and came within an eyelash of ending the game via the mercy rule.
Lemon Bay (11-8) held on, and promptly staged a comeback, helped out by two Charlotte errors, resulting in four unearned runs. Ella Kraszewski hit a two-run triple and the Manta Rays put the tying run to the plate in the sixth before a ground out finally ended the inning.
But it was a night for the Charlotte seniors, a group that Higgins called a resilient group, with many of them fighting their way up from the JV level.
“These girls worked really hard to make their way up. Have there been better seniors, yes. But this group has found a way to get it done and make themselves better, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Higgins said.
Alaena Massey, who was a four-year member of varsity, said she had been looking forward to this night for four years and delivered two runs, making it the highlight of her high school career.
“This has been the highlight of my time in high school because of all the girls I’ve grown up with and played with,” Massey said. “It’s the team that has made it so fun.”
CHARLOTTE 10, LEMON BAY 6
Lemon Bay 200 004 0 – 6 7 2
Charlotte 340 120 x – 10 12 3
Batteries: Ella Kraszewski and Christain Chandler, Sydney Thomas, Laci Hendrickson (6) and Paige Thompson and Dylan Anthony (6). WP: Thomas, LP: Kraszewski. Top hitters: Kassidy Hopper (C) 3-3, 2 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI, Alyssa Opsahl (C) 3-4, 2 RBI, run. Records: LB 11-8, CHS 15-6.