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Portal softball notches first victory
Portal's Karina Giron, left, slides safely into home before Montgomery County pitcher Katie Garrett can get the tag during the second inning Thursday.

    It wasn’t pretty nor was close to any performance Portal put together on a softball diamond in 2016, but it was a win — something this young team hasn’t had all season.
    Thursday’s 8-1 win over Montgomery County was a much-needed confidence builder for a team forced to play so much inexperience after losing a wealth of seniors off last season’s playoff team. Head coach Travis Motes is well aware of the challenges facing his team for the remainder of the season, so seeing them come out on top today was a weight off his shoulders.
    “They need that confidence boost verery badly,” Motes said. “We still have some big teams ahead of us, but this will give us a little momentum as we go into those games.”
    Though he wouldn’t like to admit it, for now Portal’s softball team is anchored down by his daughter Kolbie — a sophomore who, on Thursday, stood out like a gold nugget. Motes was nearly perfect in every aspect of her performance on the mound and in the batter’s box.
    At the plate she was 4-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI — more hits than Montgomery County’s entire team combined — while on the mound she threw a one-hitter with one walk and 23 strikeouts. Her father will be quick to temper down the shine on Kolbie, but from the objective spectator’s point of view it’s hard not to be impressed with what she did Thursday afternoon.
    “I let her call the pitches, which just so happened to be the same pitches I would have called if it was me,” Motes said. “She was on the right track by paying attention to their tendencies. She was awesome today.”
    Kolbie not only had more hits than Montgomery County’s team but she had the only three hits for Portal period until the sixth inning. All of the Panthers other base runners came via six walks, two hit by pitches and an error. Up until the sixth inning Portal’s only two RBI came from Cassidy Sivils on a fielder’s choice and Mackenzie Miller on a groundout to third.
    The sixth saw other bats outside of Motes’ finally wake up. Miller would hard-line a triple down the third base side to score Madeline Johnson, then Motes would hit a double to centerfield to drive in Miller.
    “She (Miller) wants it so bad,” Motes said. “She gets to anxious and tries too hard. I told to sit back and let the pitch come to her and she finally did.”
    But Motes’ father did see some other positives during the course of the game, such as his team’s improved defense. Even though only 12 of Montgomery County’s 24 hitters put the ball in play, Portal’s only two errors came in the first inning to cost the Panthers a run. But instead of the infield gaffs snowballing out of control, Portal kept their gloves together to play a clean defensive game the rest of the way.
    “Our defense really helped today, we caught fly balls in the infield and got the outs they gave us,” Motes said. “We took advantage of those today.”
    Portal (1-3) won’t get to rest easy for the weekend just yet though. The Panthers will travel to Bryan County for a makeup game this afternoon at 6 p.m.