It’s been an up and down season for the youthful Portal Panther softball team. Tuesday the Panthers were also involved in a roller coaster of a softball game at Jenkins County, that saw them almost win by the mercy rule, and then eventually fall 15-14 in extra innings.
Portal led 8-0 after two innings of play, and 13-5 in the bottom of the fifth, only to see the Eagles claw back both times, and eventually win it in the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs and a runner on third Jenkins County catcher Katie Hawes lifted a foul ball down the left field line, just out of the grasp of Portal left fielder Adrienne Lane. On the next pitch Hawes drilled a pitch over Lane’s head to the fence in left, plating her sister Kayla Hawes for the winning run, as the crowd erupted.
“We gave the game back to them, like three different times,” said Portal coach Travis Motes. “When you let a team hang around, and keep giving them extra outs, it usually comes back to bite you.”
“When you are playing six freshmen, I expect things to happen like this from time to time,” Motes said. “We just need to stop making the same mistakes over and over.”
Everything looked to be going the Panthers way early on, as they built an 8-0 lead. Kolbie Motes had three RBI with a pair of hits, and Ansley Woods added a two run double to help the Panthers to their fast start.
Things changed quickly in the bottom of the third. Eagle pitcher Adalee Conway blooped a single to left, on the ensuing throw from the outfield Portal third baseman Kolbie Motes had to stretch to make the catch and was hit hard by a late slide by Jenkins County second baseman Chloe Nesbitt. Motes knee buckled and she would have to leave the game.
From there the Eagles promptly scored five runs, off of primarily Portal errors. Motes leadership as the team captain in the field, as well as at the plate was notably absent from that moment on.
“Losing Kolbie definitely hurt us,” Motes said. “But these other girls stepped up. I thought Madison Cook played well at third, and we hit the ball well enough to win.”
Portal did bounce back for five more runs in the top of the fifth. Jordan Kirkland started things off with a two run single to left. That was followed by four straight Jenkins County errors, and Portal’s lead was extended to 13-5.
Jenkins County came back for three runs in the bottom of the fifth, and would end up tying the game with five runs in the bottom of the sixth capped by a two run single by Conway.
Portal was able to scratch through for a run in the top of the eighth on another Jenkins County error, but would leave the bases loaded, as back to back strikeouts ended the rally.
In the last power poll rankings Portal was ranked 23rd and 24 teams make the state playoffs. Up next Portal travels to Savannah Christian Wednesday, followed by senior night against Claxton Thursday at 5:30.