The Portage softball team found itself in an early hole for the second straight game Thursday night.
This time, however, the Warriors rallied to the tune of a 15-5 win in six innings over Reedsburg in a Badger North Conference game at Kiwanis Field in Portage.
“This was a good growing and learning experience,” said Portage co-head coach Connie Wampler. “The girls were able to recompose themselves, get settled back down and play the game we’ve been playing earlier in the season.”
Like Tuesday night, Portage trailed early on but fought back to tie the game at 4 through the first three innings before seizing control in the fourth.
The Warriors (3-2 Badger North, 8-3 overall) worked a quick top half of the frame and then came to life at the plate.
Following two fast outs, sophomore Joia Simonson doubled down the third baseline before senior Alli Walker belted a two-run home run to left center field for a 6-4 lead.
The Warriors were far from finished, however, as junior Nicole Weiss singled past third base and freshman Katelyn Belleau walked, putting a pair on for Erin Kibby.
The junior made good on the chance, hitting a two-run single up the middle to put Portage up 8-4, before later scoring to give the Warriors a 9-4 advantage.
“The girls hit the ball hard all around the field and we know if we keep hitting the ball down and hard, they’re going to start to fall,” said co-head coach Amy Zeihen.
“We picked out some better pitches to hit tonight, stayed focus and really went to the ball. We had some more girls attacking the ball and it was good to see we could get hits with two outs,” added Wampler.
Now trailing by four, the Beavers (0-5, 2-6) looked to cut into the Warriors lead in the top of the fifth, but came up empty.
Freshman Jordann Meinhardt reached on an infield single and later advanced to third, but was stranded as Walker struck out sophomore Mallory Stingley and freshman Tresajo Koopmeiner back-to-back to end the inning.
Having avoided the Reedsburg threat, Portage went back to work in the bottom half of the inning.
After junior Meghan Witt hit an infield single and Limmex reached on an error to open the inning, Simonson hit an RBI double to put the Warriors up 10-4.
With ducks on the pond again, Walker, who struck out 15 in the complete game win, went deep for the second time, crushing a three-run home run to left center for a 13-4 lead.
“That was the icing on the cake once things got rolling,” said Wampler on Walker’s bombs, her first career multi-homer game. “It makes it fun; the girls have fun, Alli is nice and relaxed and that’s what we hope for when we have runners on base and she’s up.”
Trailing by nine, the Beavers cut into their deficit with a run in the top of the sixth on an RBI double by freshman Kaitlyn Zunker, but it was all for naught as the Warriors scored twice in the bottom of the frame to seal the win.
Portage pounded out 15 hits, including four doubles, and had five players with multiple hits as Wampler and Zeihen shifted around the Warriors batting order.
“It was just to kind of relieve some pressure on some people and to get everyone relaxed going up to the plate,” said Wampler.
Zeihen added: “It brought some girls up in different situations tonight and I was pleased with how they were able to get some nice hits and come through.”
With the win, Portage is five games over .500 and 3-2 in conference play, a welcome sight after last year’s 0-6 start in the Badger North.
“I think the girls know that, talent and ability wise, we’re farther ahead than we were at this point last year,” said Wampler. “They have high expectations for themselves, they expect to compete and that’s what we’ve seen so far.
Portage will look to close the week out on a high note Friday with over Sauk Prairie in another Badger North clash.
PORTAGE 15, REEDSBURG 5 (6)
Reedsburg 220 001 – 5 5 4
Portage 022 452 – 15 15 0
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) – R: Schyvinch (2.1-5-3-1-0), Fry (L, 1.2-9-8-2-0), Selje (1-1-2-5-1). P: Walker (W, 7-5-5-3-15).
Leading hitters – R: Simpson 2x2. 2B – Zunker. P: Limmex 3x5, Witt 2x4, Simonson 2x4, Walker 2x4, Kibby 2x4. 2B – Simonson 2, Limmex, Bublitz. HR – Walker 2.
Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR.