FORT MYERS — All season, the Fort Myers High School softball team has used the chant “Saddle Up” as a way to get the offense going.
On Thursday, during the District 7A-11 championship game in Fort Myers, the Green Wave saddled up and sent the ball for a ride.
The Green Wave, who have eight seniors committed to college ball next season, went long four times and one of them, Riley Ludlam, drove in four as Fort Myers won its sixth consecutive district title with an 8-0 victory over Charlotte.
Pitcher Vivian Ponn had a home run and a double, while keeping the Tarpon offense at bay with help from the defense, coaxing 10 ground ball outs while allowing just five hits.
“We had a plan and the girls executed it. All the credit to them. They’ve been hungry all season,” said Fort Myers coach Johnny Manetta. “We had a goal to win districts, regionals and go back to states.”
The Green Wave (23-4) came out slugging.
After Riley Sanders reached on a bunt single, Ponn got a hold of a Sydney Thomas pitch and jacked it over the right centerfield fence to make it 2-0.
The next batter, Meghan Kline made it back-to-back jacks, this time to right field, to make it 3-0 before a Riley Ludlam double sent Thomas off the bump.
In the third, Dylan Anthony, leery of their power display in the first, walked Penn and Kline. Ludlam made her pay, as she hit a three-run homer to left center to make it 6-0.
Two batters later, Maddy Walther drilled one to right that hit the top of the wall and bounced over for a solo shot and a 7-0 lead.
Ludlam added an RBI single in the fourth to finish the scoring.
Charlotte (18-7) got three hits from Malerie Busha, but couldn’t get the big knock, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
“Can I have those four hits back? If we could we’re in the ballgame” joked Greg Higgins, Charlotte coach. “We have situations were we think we have them and a girls wrists one out. You have to be kidding.”
The Tarpons will be playing on the road for the first round of regionals. Higgins said he would like a third crack at Fort Myers, and the feeling was mutual.
“This is the group that won the state championship in 2017. They’re giants. They’re a foot taller than my girls,” Higgins said. “Coach Manetta told me he wants to play a good one if we win Wednesday, and I hope that as well.”
FORT MYERS 8, CHARLOTTE 0
Charlotte 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
Fort Myers 304 100 x — 8 10 0
Batteries: Sydney Thomas, Dylan Anthony (1) and Kerstyn Shaw, Vivian Ponn and Riley Ludlam. WP: Ponn, LP: Thomas. Top hitters: Ponn (FM) 2-2, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, Ludlam (FM) 3-4, HR, 4 RBI. Records: CHS 18-7, FM 23-4.
Lemon Bay at Lake Placid Softball District Finals Postponed
Thursday night’s District finals matchup between Lemon Bay and Lake Placid was postponed due to inclement weather.
The game will be played tonight at 7 p.m.