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Red Knights edge Tritons to advance to Region 6A-3 championship softball game
May 15, 2019

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The Mariner and North Fort Myers softball rivalry produced another classic on Tuesday.

The Red Knights advanced to the Region 6A-3 championship game with a 2-1 victory against the Tritons at Bobbie Dewey Field.

North may win a bit more often than Mariner in this rivalry, but it's always a battle.

"We mirror each other," North Fort Myers coach Jeff Miner said. "We got the one big hit. A runner at first, a triple -- that was the difference."

Senior pitchers Hannah Holloway of Mariner and Emma Johnson of North Fort Myers matched zeroes for four innings, at times getting into trouble but always coming out unscathed.

"Our pitcher, she was phenomenal on the mound," Miner said. "Our catcher did a great job blocking balls.

"The pitchers were phenomenal. That's a game that anybody could win or lose. We're even-Steven with them. We're just fortunate that we got the big hit."

The zeroes came to an end -- for both pitchers -- in the fifth inning.

The Tritons struck first. Dee Bent singled to left with one out, and when the ball was misplayed in the outfield, raced all the way around to give Mariner a 1-0 advantage. Johnson shook off the unearned run, retiring the side despite a walk.

Then it was the Red Knights' turn. With Hailey Weaver on first and one out, Taylor Rosciti ripped a triple to right to tie the game. One out later, Sarah Giompalo signaled to score Rosciti with what proved to be the game-winner.

"They picked it up, they scored two runs, so they did great," Miner said. "The kids, they came back. They could have fallen apart after one run scored, but we came back, got two."

Mariner coach Rachel Holloway lamented the missed opportunities.

"We didn't hit the the ball when we should," Holloway said.

Mariner left six runners on base, including two in scoring position.

Johnson retired the last seven batters she faced, including four consecutive strikeouts, before a fly ball out to Frankie Hertzog in right ended the game.

"Hannah pitched great," Rachel Holloway said. "She left one ball hanging, and the girl hit a triple.

"She's been everything for us. She's been -- everything."

Hannah Holloway completely rewrote the Mariner record books in her four years with 67 wins, a 1.33 career ERA and 928 strikeouts (280 as a junior).

"They were the better team tonight," Rachel Holloway said. "I wish them luck."

Johnson's high school career isn't over.

The Red Knights will be home Friday for a shot at the state Class 6A tournament at Dodgertown in Vero Beach.

Standing in the way will be one tough opponent. Sebring is 24-2 and ranked the top Class 6A team in Florida by MaxPreps.

The Blue Streaks avenged one of their two losses Tuesday with a 1-0 victory against Lake Placid in the other region semifinal.

That loss to Lake Placid was an upset in the District 6A-10 championship game.

North Fort Myers made it as far as the state semis in 2017 before falling to Land O' Lakes.

Tuesday marked the final showdown between two of Southwest Florida's premier softball pitchers in Holloway and Johnson.

Both pitchers will continue their careers at the next level. Holloway has signed with NCAA Division II Georgia Southwestern, while Johnson will play for Division I Stetson.

That means Johnson will be back in Lee County at least once in a while, since Stetson is in the American Sun Conference along with FGCU.

The Hatters expect to use Johnson as an infielder and outfielder, according to Stetson coach Frank Griffin.

Georgia Southwestern reached the championship game of the Peach Belt Conference tournament this season before losing to the University of North Georgia.

Holloway is projected to continue as a pitcher for the Hurricanes.

Meanwhile, the Tritons-Red Knights rivalry will roll on. Each team only loses two seniors.

"We only lose two seniors, so we'll keep building," Rachel Holloway said. "We'll be all right."

Class 4A

West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy 4, Bishop Verot 1: Oxbridge Academy (23-4) scored twice in the sixth inning to break open what had been a tight contest. The Vikings (13-13) were within 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth. Caridad Estes held Verot to three hits and one earned run. The Thunderwolves advanced to the state semifinals on May 21 against one of two Jacksonville teams: either Providence School or Trinity Christian Academy.

Baseball

Class 4A playoffs

Delray Beach American Heritage 3, Bishop Verot 0: The Stallions (27-2) rode ace pitcher Nelson Berkwich, who entered the game with an 0.58 ERA, to the shutout victory. Berkwich, a junior who already has committed to pitch for Vanderbilt University, struck out 14 in 6 2/3 innings. The Vikings finished their season 13-14. American Heritage advanced to the region final against either Sarasota Cardinal Mooney or West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy, who play Wednesday afternoon.

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