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Portal's sweep halted by rain
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    PORTAL — The second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader was one out from becoming official, but Emanuel County Institute’s Nikki Ellison belted a two-out single into left field as the rain opened up, and the game was called with the Portal Lady Panthers (2-0) holding a 3-1 advantage.
    It was heads-up base running that put the Panthers ahead.
    Nikki Sims led off Game 2 with a walk. Two outs later, Sims stole second base, and the throw went high and bounced into centerfield. She scored all the way from second.
    The Lady Bulldogs (0-2, 0-1 Region 3B-A) tied things up in the bottom of the inning when Jalisa Mincey led things off with a leadoff double and was able to beat the throw home after an Ellison groundout.
    Portal retook the lead in the second when Megan Moore was able to reach third base on a dropped pop fly to left field. She scored when Brionna Flood grounded to the pitcher.
    Sims crossed the plate for the second time in the third inning when she crossed the plate on an RBI single by Ellie Finch. She scored three times on the evening.
    “(Sims is) very intelligent about the game,” said second-year Panther coach Shannon Davis. “She knows what she’s doing, she’s smart, she thinks, and she reminds the other girls where they’re supposed to be. She’s only a 10th grader, but she’s already a good leader on the team.”
    Because the two teams are in different subregions, the second game will not be made up.

Lady Panthers 7, Lady Bulldogs 4, Game 1
    The Portal Lady Panthers opened up Wednesday’s doubleheader with a 7-4 win over visiting Emanuel County Institute, racking up 10 hits and holding ECI to three.
    Morgan Jones led the way, going 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base.
    “(Jones) is just really coming into her own this year with her hitting,” said Davis. “All the girls did a good job putting it into play, and that’s all we ask them to do. If you get out, fine, but just make contact with the ball.”
    The Panther attack started early, with four runners crossing the plate in the bottom of the first inning. Jones started things off with a double to the gap in deep right-center, and took third on a passed ball.
    She scored on an RBI single by Megan Anderson. After a walk and a single loaded the bases, Anderson scored when a pickoff attempt sailed into right field. Pitcher Megan Moore made it 3-0 on an RBI single from Kaylie Howell, and Laquana Jordan plated the Panthers’ fourth run on ECI’s third error of the inning.
    The Bulldogs plated a run in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings, but a three-run fourth sealed the win for the Panthers.
    Portal got into trouble allowing ECI baserunners to reach on errors in the second and third innings, but some tight defense got PHS out the threats. A 5-4-3 double play emptied the bases in the second, and a pair of groundouts to Moore ended the threat in the third.  
    “I just think that the girls have matured so much since last year,” Davis said. “That’s the key. Last year if something happened, they’d get nervous and wouldn’t be able to get it back together. But this year it seems like if they make a mistake, they just shake it off.”
    The Lady Panthers return to action in Friday’s Battle for the Boro Tournament at Mill Creek. They get things started against Effingham County at 3:30 p.m.

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