The Venice High Indians softball team backed up the stellar pitching of freshman Micaela Hartman with 18 hits to post a 13-1 victory over the North Port Bobcats in a District 7A-11 match-up on Thursday night.

Hartman twirled a two-hitter in a complete game effort. She gave up just one earned run in the sixth inning. Hartman struck out four and walked three to earn the victory.

“This was a weird game for us since the district picture was pretty well set already,” said Indians coach Steve Constantino. “We beat Fort Myers and gave a game away against Charlotte. We could have been really down after that. I give all the credit to these girls for staying focused.”

Maddie Baker started and pitched solidly for the Bobcats. She went five innings and gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits. Pitching to contact, Baker had no strikeouts or walks.

“It should have been a very competitive game, but it came down tonight to a lack of effort by my girls,” said North Port coach Frank Baker. “Just like I told them, when that first home run was hit, all the energy just went out them.”

The home run to which Baker referred was a 220-foot shot by the Indians Kayleigh Roper in the second inning. Roper, who had three hits including a single, triple and home run, drove the second pitch she saw over the left field fence. The Roper round-tripper gave the visiting Indians a 1-0 lead. Venice never trailed in the game.

In addition to Roper’s big offensive output, Bri Weimer also had a big night. She had four hits in as many at bats.

“At the beginning of the year I was struggling offensively,” said Weimer. “Lately, I’ve been going up to the plate with a plan and that’s really helped. They came inside and outside on me and I did well with both. I look outside low, and then I can react to the inside and the outside.”

The Indians held the 1-0 lead until they added another pair in the fifth and seven more in the sixth. With a 10-0 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth, the Cats’ Liberty Pence knocked in a run to prevent the mercy rule from going into effect.

Venice tacked on another three in the top of the seventh. A flash of leather by North Port first baseman Taylor Roche helped keep the inning from getting worse. Roche snagged a hard-line drive, then stepped on the bag for an unassisted double play.

The Indians (8-9, 3-3) will next meet Manatee at home Friday night at 7 p.m. The Bobcats (7-10, 0-5) meanwhile, will host district leader Fort Myers next Thursday in North Port at 7 p.m.

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