NORTH PORT – The North Port High softball team’s game against regional power North Fort Myers on Thursday was pretty much a carbon copy of its game the previous night against Sarasota.
The Bobcats allowed the Red Knights to get a huge lead, only to rally late and fall just short, as North Fort Myers held on for a 6-4 victory at the Preserve.
North Fort Myers remained unbeaten at 5-0, but made things interesting as North Port, which trailed 6-1, scored two in the sixth, one in the seventh and had the tying run on second with two out before North pitcher Kendall Wylie struck out Konstantine Belgrade to end it.
Acting North Port head coach Dave Grandt said it was deja vu all over again.
“We started slow, had runners on base and couldn’t get the timely hit, we’re probably the best team in the state from the fifth inning on,” Grandt said. “All the games we lost we didn’t score until the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. It’s been a tale of two games.”
North Fort Myers looked like it would dominate early, scoring two with a two-out rally in the first, highlighted by a Mia Lane two-run double.
After North Port got on the board with a successful double steal to score Cailline Kelly in the second, North added three in the third on a two-run home run by Abby Hynes. After Lane tripled, the Red Knights got a single from Kaliyah Williams to make it 5-1.
Wylie cruised until the fifth when she allowed runners on second and third with one out, but a strike out and grounder to second ended the threat.
Wylie wasn’t so lucky in the sixth. After North added another run on an error to make it 6-1, Rachael Harris brought home two with a two-out triple to make it 6-3.
North Port in the seventh loaded the bases with one out and got a run when Kaitlin Kohlenberg hit into a fielder’s choice, setting up the finish.
Wylie, who struck out nine, said she wanted to work ahead, and it worked for the first four innings.
“I was starting to leave balls down the middle and they were starting to hit the ball inside and moved off the plate. They started adjusting to me,” Wylie said.
“We have to strike faster and push different buttons to get rolling right out of the gate,” Grandt said. “Otherwise against these better ball clubs we can’t win.”
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