ESTERO — After waiting out a two hour and 15 minute rain and lightning delay, the Charlotte Tarpons fell to Estero, 6-1, in a Class 7A-Region 3 softball quarterfinal matchup Wednesday night.
Two Wildcat pitchers combined to hold the Tarpons to just one hit as the third ranked team in Class 7A in Florida pulled away in the later innings to put an end to the Tarpons season.
Estero broke on top in the first inning as Charlotte starter Dylan Anthony walked the first two batters.
But after Riley Ennis hit into a double play, Carly Campbell lined a double to the gap to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
The Tarpons tied it up in the second as Alyssa Opsahl singled to lead off the inning, then went to second on an errant pickoff throw. An error by third baseman Ennis sent Opsahl to third where she scored on a passed ball to tie the game at 1-1.
The Tarpons had a chance in the top of the fourth inning as they loaded the bases on a catchers interference, a walk and a hit batter. But Estero starter Lauren Hobbs struck out Anthony to end the threat.
The Wildcats then took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. After giving up singles to the first two batters Anthony was replaced in the circle by Sydney Thomas. After a walk to Chelsea Dumas, Tyler Olive lined a single to left to score the go-ahead run, but left fielder Alaena Massey threw out Anna Raybuck trying to score. Then, after Dumas scored on a bunt by Caly Hoard, Hobbs flied out to left and Massey gunned down Olive at the plate for an inning-ending double play.
But with a two run lead, the Wildcats turned to Alex Salter to pitch, and the Alabama commit retired the last nine Tarpon batters in order, striking out the last four.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats loaded the bases again with two outs in the fifth, and Dumas delivered a bases-clearing double to extend the lead to 6-1.
“I think it comes down to us not capitalizing, when we needed to,” Tarpon senior Malerie Busha said.
“In the end that turned around and really hurt us because if we could have scored a couple of runs it would have been a different ball game. It just didn’t go our way tonight unfortunately.”
Busha said the delay at the beginning affected the Tarpons performance. “I feel like we came here ready to play,” Busha said. “Sitting around for two hours kind of slowed our momentum and we all got pretty cold.”
Fellow senior Massey said credit should also go to the Wildcats pitching.
“Their pitching was really good,” Massey said. “We’ve been working on getting ready to come and they didn’t throw who we thought they were going to at first so we were a little thrown off. So then, when we finally got used to her (Hobbs), they then put in the girl that we were getting ready for. They have very good pitching, but I think we did pretty good going off of what we’ve been working on.”
The Tarpons end their season with a record of 18-9 while the Wildcats, now 27-2, move on to the regional semifinals next week.
“It was a good season,” Massey said. “I’m glad that we got this far.”
ESTERO 6, CHARLOTTE 1
Charlotte 010. 000. 0. — 1. 1. 1
Estero. 100. 230. X. — 6. 8. 2
WP — Lauren Hobbs. LP — Dylan Anthony. Leading hitters: Chelsea Dumas (E) 2-2, 2 2B, run, 3 RBIs; Alyssa Opsahl (C) 1-2, run.