BARRON COLLIER 14, FORT MYERS 0 (5 INN.)
FM 000 00—0 2 5
BC 067 1X—14 13 1
K. Mayer, Norris (2) and Troast; Newland and Ross. WP — Newland (11-2). LP — K. Mayer (11-7). 2B — Conway (BC), Langham (BC). 3B – Corrente (BC), Gray (BC), Swiderski (BC). HR – Hogue (BC).
NAPLES — With a year of postseason experience under its belt, the Barron Collier softball team showed just how improved it was Tuesday in the Class 6A regional quarterfinals.
The Cougars needed extra innings last season to win their first-round regional game. Not this year. On Tuesday the Cougars dominated every phase of the game in a 14-0 rout of Fort Myers at Barron Collier.
Six of the Cougars’ 13 hits were for extra bases as they advanced to Friday’s regional semifinal at Cape Coral-Baker. It was the Bulldogs who Barron Collier beat in the quarterfinals last year, needing a late comeback for a 2-1 win in eight innings.
“We came out and decided we weren’t going to make it close like we did last year,” Cougars sophomore left fielder Emily Gray said. “We knew we had to hit the ball, play good ‘D’ and keep moving.”
After leaving the bases loaded to end the first inning, Barron Collier (21-5) blew the game wide open in the second and third innings. The Cougars scored 13 runs and had all six extra base hits in the two frames.
Barron Collier scored five runs before Fort Myers (16-10) could get an out in the bottom of the second. The Cougars were up 9-0 with no outs in the third.
Ashley Swiderski and Lexi Corrente hit triples in the second inning. Gray had a triple and Megan Langham and Kaitlin Conway had doubles in the third. Caitie Hogue had both a solo home run and an RBI-single in the third inning.
“I knew we were up against a David-and-Goliath outing,” first-year Fort Myers coach John Manetta said. “I knew they were going to come out swinging. They’re a very good offensive team and a very good defensive team.”
Cougars starter Brianna Newland had a perfect game going in the fourth inning before three straight runners reached base to load the bases with one out for the Green Wave. After one of the runners reached on an error, the Barron Collier defense made up for their only mistake with a double play to end the inning and keep Fort Myers scoreless.
Newland, who improved her record to 11-2 and lowered her 0.84 earned-run average, gave up two hits and walked none. The sophomore has allowed only seven earned runs in 63 innings this season.
“Everyone wanted to come out and hit the ball hard,” Newland said. “That gives you a lot of confidence (on the mound). It always you to throw more pitches and let your defense make the outs for you.”
Gray went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in and scored twice for the Cougars. Hogue finished 3-for-3 and had two runs, while Swiderski scored three times.
Manetta said his team can learn from Barron Collier, a young program that started six sophomores and a freshman Tuesday. Despite starting five freshmen, Fort Myers made it to regionals for the first time in three years. The Green Wave have just one senior, third baseman Taylor Wiles.
“I tip my hat to what they’ve been able to build (at Barron Collier),” Manetta said. “It’s basically what I’m trying to build. We’re going to work hard in the offseason, build to get better and try to get back here next year and have a little bit better showing.”