North softball team thumps Ida Baker
Red Knights advance to district championship game at Charlotte tonight
The North Fort Myers softball team punched its ticket to the 5A District 8 championship game with an 11-1 win over Ida Baker Wednesday night.
The Red Knights (21-5) needed just five innings to take care of the visiting Lady Bulldogs in the semifinal matchup behind a strong pitching performance by sophomore Kendall Wylie and a five-run fifth.
“Our pitcher pitched outstanding tonight,” said North head coach Jeff Miner. “They key is you want to avoid the walks, and then hit your spots. Our catcher controlled the game, we played well defensively, and when you have pitching and defense, you don’t have to score many runs.”
The Red Knights offense came out swinging and plated two runs in the bottom half of the first via RBI singles from junior Sarah Hamilton and senior Alexis Morris.
In the the second, North senior Taylor Rosciti came up with the bases loaded and laced a ground ball single up the middle that skipped over the glove of the charging centerfielder, clearing the bases.
Ida Baker (11-9) would try to climb back in the second as sophomore Adriana Przespolewski (who was solid at shortstop on the night) singled home Jadaly Mejia. Wylie would then work out of the inning forcing a groundout and pop out to retire the side.
Over five innings of work, Wylie allowed just four hits, one run and struck out five batters while walking just one.
North leadoff hitter Desirae Devine would crush an inside-the-park homer in the fourth before the Lady Red Knights exploded in the fifth.
With the bases loaded once again, sophomore Madelyn Tejeda hit a triple down the left field line that scored three. In the next at-bat, freshman Kaelyn Sams singled Tejeda home and after a bunt moved Sams over, Devine brought her around with a single of her own to end the game.
North was without two starters on the night, but that failed to hinder the team’s continued success on the field this season.
“They came in and played well,” Miner said of young players that stepped up such as Sams and Kimber Bryant, who made an excellent catch running down a ball in left field marked for the wall. “That’s why you play them throughout the year so that when situations arise (they’re ready). It was a fun night.”
Devine certainly did her job as the leadoff hitter, reaching base in all four of her at-bats, both scoring and driving home two runs.
“She’s had a great year. She’s been up and down with the bat, but she finds a way to get on base for us,” Miner said. “It seems on a big stage like tonight, she just rises to the occasion. Not only is she a great player, but just a great kid. And it’s fun to see kids like that do well, so I’m happy for her.”
While the loss ends Ida Baker’s season, this is a team to watch for the future. The Bulldogs have quite the young squad, this year carrying 11 underclassman, three juniors and just one senior.
“The biggest thing is that we’ve grown together,” said Ida Baker head coach Heidi Bearman. “We still need to mold and gel a little bit more. We’re a very young team and a lot of room to grow – and a lot of positivity of where we’re going to be going after this year.”
Both Bulldogs pitchers on Wednesday, Oliviah Sylwestrak and Allisyn Hemminger, are underclassman who have nowhere to go but up. Ida Baker also rosters freshman twins, Makayla and Julianna Nieves, who are always tough outs and pack serious power.
“We were so proud of our pitchers and our defense tonight,” Bearman said. “We had some highlights, but the bats just weren’t rolling tonight, and it’s hard to come back when that’s the case.”
North will take on Charlotte (17-7) Friday night at 7 p.m. on the road for the District Championship.
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