West Port edges Forest in softball

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Posted March 8, 2023 | By Mark Pinson
Special to Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

West Port’s Analiz Santiago had three hits and drove in two runs and senior Ryleigh Bauer scattered six hits in a complete-game effort to lead the Wolf Pack to a 10-8 win over Forest on Wednesday night.

West Port, which led by as many as six runs midway through the game, overcame an uncharacteristic six errors to improve to 5-3 on the season.

“Give Forest credit, they are a good team and didn’t get down and kept battling and we made a few errors which helped them get back in the game,” said West Port coach William Brewington. “We’re still figuring out our lineup and the girls are starting to believe in the fundamentals that we’re teaching them of swinging at strikes in the zone. When we do that, we can put hits all over the board. Hats off to Ryleigh, she struggled a little bit but pitched well overall and I’m glad she’s on our team.”

Forest, which showed great fortitude in fighting back from a large deficit, dropped to 5-4 overall.

“I’m proud of the girls for battling back and having a chance to win,” said Forest coach Daniel Kelley. “We were a little listless, but we woke up and showed a lot of heart. Right now, we’re hitting the ball better than we’re fielding. I like this team we’re just not playing up to our potential.”

West Port opened the scoring in the top of the first inning as Bauer laced a two-out run-scoring single to give the Class 7A Wolf Pack a 1-0 lead.

Bauer, a hard-throwing right-hander, cruised through the Forest lineup in the bottom of the frame.

West Port extended its lead in the top of the second inning on a pair of walks and four hits and a sacrifice fly by Santiago to take a commanding 5-0 lead.

Forest got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning on a single by Rilynn Fountain and an RBI double to center field by Emily Bellomo to make it 5-1.

West Port, which banged out 11 hits, added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 7-1 lead off Forest sophomore right-hander Naomi Meyer.

The Wildcats refused to fold and clawed back with some timely hitting and the aid of three West Port errors to pull within 7-4 after five innings.

The Wolf Pack answered in the top of the sixth inning as Santiago smacked an RBI single and Alena Ishman drove in a run with a ground out to take a 9-4 lead.

The Class 6A Wildcats wouldn’t quit as Bellomo drilled a solo home run over the right-center field fence. Forest, which had six hits, took advantage of a pair of West Port errors to plate three more runs to close within 9-8 heading to the final frame.

Ishman, who came on in relief of Meyer with two outs in the sixth inning, gave up an RBI double to Santiago in the top of the seventh inning to make it a two-run game.

Bauer, who struck out six and walked two, retired the Wildcats in order in the bottom of the frame to seal the victory.

West Port is back on the diamond on Thursday night with a home game against North Marion, while Forest hosts Belleview on Thursday.

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