PALMETTO -- During its final inning of the season, Palmetto's softball team got one key hit after another, putting an interesting charge into Monday's Class 7A-District 10 quarterfinal at Blackstone Park.
Had the Tigers been as aggressive earlier in the night, their seventh-inning rally may have been enough to extend their spring.
Instead, Palmetto lost 8-4 to North Port.
"We didn't put the bat on the ball like we needed to," said Tigers coach Tammy Stinton.
Palmetto (12-12) loaded the bases in the second and third innings, but failed to
score in either frame. The Tigers put runners on second and third with none out in the fifth, but again, didn't plate a run.
"We just didn't come out hitting the ball," Stinton said, "like we're capable of ."
Mistakes on the other side of the ball compounded Palmetto's problems. The Bobcats (8-15) took a 2-0 lead in the first without the benefit of a hit after the Tigers committed errors on the game's first three plays.
North Port, the tournament's fifth seed that lost to fourth-seeded Palmetto twice during the regular season, blew the game open with a four-run fifth. The big blow came with two outs when Courtney Naylor's liner to right with the bases glanced off the glove of Palmetto's Jada Massie and bounced off Massie's forehead. Three runs scored on the play.
Massie left the game but Stinton said she was feeling OK.
It was the first regular season or posteason win against a district opponent in five years for the Bobcats, who head to Braden River at 7 p.m. Tuesday to face the top-seeded Pirates.
"We felt we were right there with them," North Port coach Amanda Wathen said of the Tigers. "Anybody can win on any given day. You come out play playing hard, working hard at every at-bat, every play, play one play at a time, and you can win."
Allyston Stewart was a catalyst out of the leadoff spot for North Port, singling twice, reaching base four times and scoring two runs. Morgan Wier doubled, singled, drove in a run and scored twice for North Port, which didn't strike out and wasn't set down in order until the seventh.
"If you put the ball in play, even if it's little dinkers," Wathen said, "you're still going to be able to score runs."
Palmetto scored three times in the seventh and loaded the bases before Kyria Holcomb grounded out to second to end it. Keeley Ecker doubled and singled, and Kaitlyn Ripley had two hits and an RBI for the Tigers, whose top two pitchers, Auria Mounts (forearm) and Samantha Urbina (ankle), have been out with injuries for about a month.
"They didn't give up," Stinton said. "They play hard, and that's something we try to tell them -- you leave it on the field. You can't take it home with you."