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Panthers cruise in Battle opener

Panthers cruise in Battle opener

Panthers cruise in Battle opener

Portal's Madison Bishop slides safely...

    For the second time in as many tries, Keri Carter was able to keep the Statesboro bats at bay to give the Portal Lady Panthers a win.
    Last week, Carter was summoned into a relief role in a thrilling 15-14 comeback victory for Portal (2-2). On Friday afternoon, the Blue Devils and Panthers squared off in the opening game of the Battle in the ‘Boro at Mill Creek Regional Park.
    Things weren’t nearly as dramatic this time around.
    Carter went the distance and Portal never trailed as the Panthers claimed a 9-1 win in five innings.
    “I definitely think that this was a step forward for us,” Portal coach Valerie Kinard said. “Things went a lot smoother. Keri was a rock for us on the mound and we hit the ball well all afternoon.”
    Carter found herself in a few tricky situations, but danced out of danger each time.
    A few hits by Statesboro (1-2) and some Portal defensive miscues allowed Lady Blue Devils to reach second and third with less than two outs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
    Thwarting the comeback attempt, Carter snared a two-out liner off the bat of Katie Lee in the third, allowed just one run to cross in the fourth and got SHS starter Kristen Kingery to strike out swinging in the fifth.
    Statesboro’s downfall was its inability to escape the same kind of trouble.
    One wild pitch by Kingery in the bottom of the second gave Portal a 1-0 lead and another in the third doubled the lead and set up a big inning.
    Maggie Channel drew a bases loaded walk to make it a 3-0 Portal advantage before Faith Oglesby drove in a pair with a single to center. Becky Channel was plunked with the bases loaded to make it 6-0 after three innings.
    Caitlyn Girardeau and Kenya Huff both knocked in runs with RBI singles in the fourth and a final tally in the bottom of the fifth ended the game early via mercy rule.
    Both Portal and Statesboro will complete their round-robin tournament schedules today. Statesboro plays three games, beginning with East Laurens at 9 a.m. and concluding in the afternoon against New Hampstead and Wheeler County. Portal also has an early wake-up call as the Panthers take on New Hampstead at 9 a.m. before finishing out their tournament against Wheeler County.

Portal 8, East Laurens 1
    The Panthers made it a clean sweep in the first day of tournament play as they breezed to an 8-1 win over East Laurens in their second contest.
    Oglesby pitched all seven innings and — as in the first game — the Panthers led wire-to-wire.
    Girardeau got things started with a solo home run in the first inning. After two more Panthers reached base, Huff sent a ball into the gap. With no shallow fences at Mill Creek, Huff was able to round the bases for a three-run home run.
    “We have a lot of girls that can hit, but (Girardeau and Huff) are our big sticks,” Kinard said. “We depend on them to get the big hits when we need them and they did a great job of that today.”

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

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