In a game full of rallies, it was Portal that had the last laugh.
Trailing 8-7 in the sixth inning, the Lady Panthers pushed five runs across the plate and held on for a 12-9 victory over Statesboro Monday evening at Mill Creek Regional Park.
“It was a little unnerving, sitting in the dugout,” said Portal coach Shannon Davis. “It was really back-and-forth, but our girls had a lot of confidence that they could comeback at the end.”
Portal started its winning rally with a Megan Anderson walk and Mary Ashley Henley sacrificed her to second. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases and Laquana Jordan lined a two-run single into right to give the Panthers the lead for good.
Megan Moore lined another two-run single with two outs to complete the scoring for Portal.
“We know that we have a lot of good hitters,” said Davis. “We just kept going up there and making good swings and got the hits when we needed them.”
Statesboro pulled ahead with two outs in the second after Phoebe Wright was caught stealing on an Alisia Jenkins strikeout.
Kyera Whittaker singled to center, Sarah Brown walked and the runners advanced on a wild pitch before Lashawn Lyons doubled to tie the game.
Blue Devil pitcher Lauren Hadden drew a walk, and a wild throw on Lyons’ attempted steal of third allowed both Statesboro runners to come in for a 6-4 lead.
Hendley Kimbrell then doubled to right and came in to score on an infield hit by Marley Beasley to make it 7-4.
“I was very proud of our girls tonight,” said Simmons. “(Portal) got us for some runs in the first inning, but we came right back and kept fighting.”
Portal drew even in the next inning.
With runners and first and second and one run already across, senior shortstop Nikki Sims blasted a Hadden offering into the gap in right center for a two-run triple to knot the game back at 7-7.
Statesboro almost escaped the first inning without damage, but some tough luck and bad bounces helped the Panthers take a lead.
Anderson laced a two-out double to left and advanced to third on Henley’s infield single. Chansley Parker tapped a grounder to third too softly to make a play at first and Anderson narrowly beat the throw home from RicaJanae Williams to give Portal a 1-0 lead.
Brionna Flood reached after some SHS miscommunication on an infield popup and Laquana Jordan drew a bases loaded walk before Mary Lane laid down a perfect bunt to bring in the third run of the inning.
“We had some defensive problems early,” said Simmons. “We definitely improved later in the game, but those early mistakes came back to bite us.”
Statesboro came right back in the home half of the inning.
Kyera Whitaker lined a single to left and came in to score when Sarah Browns line drive bounced off the glove of Lane in left field for a double.
The Devils went on to load the bases with one out, but Henley escaped the jam by forcing Alexis Adkins to pop to second and striking out Marley Beasley.
Moore took the mound for Portal in the fourth inning and was strong the rest of the way.
She surrendered the Devils’ final two runs, but also struck out six, including getting Kimbrell to fan with the bases loaded to end the game.
“That’s what we count on (Moore) for,” said Davis. “Both of our pitchers did a good job tonight, and when we called on Megan, she came in and gave us a great effort.”
Still looking for its first win on the season, Statesboro hosts Effingham County tonight at 5 p.m. for Senior Night.
Portal will also be in action this evening as the Panthers travel to Twin City for a 5:30 p.m. region showdown with Emanuel County Institute.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.