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Lady Blue Devils cruise at Portal

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Lady Blue Devils cruise at Portal

    PORTAL — The Statesboro softball team rolled to its second consecutive victory to start the new season, blasting Portal by a count of 23-0 in three innings Monday evening.
    The Lady Blue Devils (2-0) also got their first win of the season at the expense of the Lady Panthers (0-2), winning a game in similarly convincing fashion last week in Statesboro.
    “I’m glad that we’ve been able to get a couple of wins to start the season,” said SHS coach Jim Simmons. “I think that all of our hard work over the summer has definitely paid off. We’re a lot further along than we were at this point last season.”
Struggling to replace the nine departed seniors from last year’s squad, Portal has battled with consistency in its pitching and Statesboro wasted no time in jumping on Portal starter Kenya Huff, pushing six runs across in the top of the first.
    Sarah Brown (1-for-2, 2 runs scored) led off with a walk, stole second, then advanced home on a pair of wild pitches to start the scoring. Two more walks preceded an RBI single off the bat of Kristen Kingery and Henley Kimbrell (1-for-1, 2 BB, 3 RBI) drew a bases loaded walk to drive in another Blue Devil. Three separate wild pitches allowed Statesboro runners to race home from third and cap the explosive first inning.
The Devils put the game out of reach, pushing 14 more across the plate in the second inning.
    Kyera Whitaker and Lashawn Lyons led off the frame with back-to-back singles before Huff’s location struggles returned and the next four Statesboro batters reached base via walk or hit by pitch. Keiyonna Gusby singled home a pair of runs to make it 13-0 and Whitaker doubled her home two batters later.
    Amber Finch came in to relieve Huff, but couldn’t stop the bleeding as she surrendered three more walks and two hits – the big blow a two-run triple down the right field line by Kimbrell.
    “I was pleased with our hitting tonight,” said Simmons. “Sometimes, when a lot of walks are being dealt, it can make it harder to focus and make good contact when a pitch comes into the zone, but we put some good swings on the ball.”
    Just as it was last week, the beneficiary of Statesboro’s scoring was senior pitcher Lauren Hadden. The senior right-hander notched her second win of the season, breezing through the first two innings while allowing just one hit and striking out four Panthers.
    Kingery came in to pitch the last inning and continued the impressive start to her high school career.
    The hard-throwing freshman struck out the side, surrendered just one walk and has yet to allow a hit in her first two innings with the Devils.
    Statesboro gets right back into the swing of things this evening as the Devils travel to Hinesville for a date with Liberty County. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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