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Portal drops two at Tattnall tournament
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Coach McDaniel II

TCHS coach Brett McDaniels talks about the outlook of his young 2007 team.
    REIDSVILLE — The Portal Lady Panthers got their softball season underway against the Tattnell County Lady Warriors during a pre-season tournament hosted by TCHS in Reidsville that began Monday night and — while the Warriors got the win, 3-1 — the Lady Panthers got some much-needed batting practice.
    “Our bats weren’t doing really good,” said first-year head coach Shannon Davis, “but we (missed practice) three days last week because of the heat. That has had an effect on the way we played. We just told them that this was batting practice.”
    While PHS had some trouble getting the bats going — the Warriors out-hit them 9-3 in the contest — the Panthers were able to get on base and put some pressure on TCHS, amassing six walks in the game and reaching twice on errors.
    The Warriors got the scoring started in the top of the first when sophomore pitcher Danna Metts (2-for-3, 3B, RBI, 2R) scored on a RBI double from Kiera Cook.
    Portal answered in the bottom of the inning after Nikki Sims grounded to Warrior third baseman Ashton Ansley, whose throw got by first baseman Jessica Mobley and allowed Sims to reach second. Metts walked the bases loaded, and a dropped third strike by catcher Allie Anderson allowed Sims to score.
    Metts put the Panthers away in the third when she rocked an RBI triple to the gap in right-center and later scored on a Cook groundout. She finished off Portal by pitching a complete game, throwing 110 pitches, striking out three and setting PHS down 1-2-3 in the final two innings. She did not allow any earned runs.
    “Danna’s been a real good leader,” said Warrior coach Brett McDaniel. “Even as a freshman last year she was a leader for our ball club. She’s taken on that role as a sophomore this year. She’s a performer. She’s got guts, and she can really dig down. When the going gets tough, she sticks her nose into the grind and wants it.”
    Inheriting a Portal team that won only two games in 2006 has been tough on Davis, but she is optimistic about what she has seen out of her squad.
    “We feel excellent,” Davis said. “We had a really good summer program, and most of the girls played. We’re very confident in their abilities.”
    One pleasant surprise for Davis in the opening game was on the defensive side of the ball, where the Panthers did not allow any errors and turned two double plays in the game.
    For Davis, Mary Ashly Henley stood out the most from her post at third base, playing a flawless game defensively.
    Although she took the loss, PHS pitcher Kaylie Howell was impressive in her 2007 debut on the mound. She went the distance, throwing 73 pitches and allowing three earned runs in seven innings. With the help of her defense, she shut down TCHS 1-2-3 four times and struck out two.
    Portal dropped its second game Monday, falling to Liberty County, 13-2.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.