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SCD skims Lady Panthers
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    PORTAL — The Portal Lady Panthers took on the Hornets of Savannah Country Day Thursday evening, and once again fell just short after keeping it tight for a majority of the game, dropping the contest 6-3.
    The Hornets (5-0, 4-0 Region 3-A) are the top dogs in the region and their strong pitching staff of Victoria Hilton and Katherine Dotson were able to shut the Panthers (3-2, 3-2) for a majority of the game.
    Hilton had a perfect game going throughout the first three innings, but, trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers rallied. Nikki Sims and Jessie Mixon reached with singles and – with two on and two out – pitcher Kaylie Howell looped an RBI single into right field. A wild pitch allowed the tying run to score and PHS took the lead when Boshna Williams belted an RBI single down the right field line.
    “I was really pleased, because they didn’t shut us down,” said Panther coach Shannon Davis about the first-place Hornets. “I don’t think anybody expected us to do as well as we did. I was proud of the girls. I was really pleased with our effort.”
    Defensively, the Panthers played solid, nailing two base runners at home and another at third base. They only committed one error, but it would prove costly.
    Clinging to a 3-2 lead, the Panthers put two runners on first and second, and SCDS’s Melissa Burkhamer laid down a one-out sacrifice bunt. Portal pitcher Howell fielded the bunt but overthrew first base allowing the tying run to score and putting runners on the corners. A popup and a ground out got Howell out of the inning without further damage.
    With the score tied, a sixth inning double by Hilton drove in two and put the game out of reach for the Lady Panthers, who were set down 1-2-3 five times in the game.
    Hilton struck out five Panthers in her four innings of work and Dotson finished them off facing 11 batters and retiring 10. She struck out three.
    Howell pitched six innings striking out one and walking one.
    Portal’s 3-2 record has already surpassed the team’s win total from a year ago, and Davis sites one big change in the attitude of the team in her first year at the helms.
    “We’re having fun,” said the coach. “Our girls don’t give up. That’s what we tell them. Keep trying, keep pushing and don’t give up.”
    Portal returns to action on Thursday when they hit the road to Bryan County for a 4:30 p.m. region matchup.

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