Momentum can be a tough thing to overcome. Wednesday evening in Portal the Panther softball team overcame nine errors and battled back and forth with Crawford County before finally falling to the Eagles 5-4 in nine innings. The Eagles rode that momentum to a 7-2 victory in the nitecap ending the Panthers memorable season.
“It was a roller coaster of emotions this week, but I couldn’t be prouder of the fight in the girls tonight and all year,” said Portal coach Travis Motes. “The difference in that first game was the nine errors, but we kept going and fighting and just came up a little short and it was tough to come back from that first game loss.”
Trailing 1-0 the Panthers jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third despite not getting a hit. Jaycee Sanchez reached on an error which plated the first run. Sanchez and Marlie Motes then both scored as Riley Lamb struck out, but the ball was in the dirt and the throw to first was wild. The Warriors came right back to score two runs in the top of the fourth tying the game at 3-3.
The game remained tied at three as Riley Lamb and Riley Scaggs battled on the mound the next two innings. The Eagles struck for a run in the top of the seventh, but the Panthers came right back to tie it up as on an RBI single by Anslee Woods to make it 4-4.
Both teams had opportunities in the eight but were unable to come through. Crawford County was able to plate a run in the top of the ninth as Jaydyn Rogers plated Mary Katheryn Mason for what proved to be the winning run.
Game two saw the Eagle bats finally start to catch up to the heat from Portal pitcher Riley Lamb.
Catcher Rylie Youngblood started the scoring with a solo homer in the first. They would go on to score in each of the next four innings to grab a 7-1 lead. Jaydyn Rogers led the way with a pair of RBIs. Portal only managed two hits in game two on a double by Blair Brannen and a single by Kelsi Williams.
“In the second game they just outhit us,” said Motes. “We have been on the winning end of a lot of tight games, tonight we were on the losing end and that made that second game even tougher to overcome an early deficit.”
The Panthers end the season after finishing as region runners up and hosting their first ever state playoff games.
“I feel like our region and theirs are probably the toughest in the state,” said Motes. “I am proud of what these girls accomplished this year, and we are really going to miss our five seniors. They have meant so much to this program and helped push us to new heights this year.”