When in the circle this season, Alli Walker has pitched dominantly for the Portage softball team.
That trend continued Tuesday night, as the senior right-hander twirled another gem to help lead the Warriors to a 5-1 win over Sauk Prairie in a Badger North Conference game at Kiwanis Field in Portage.
Walker, like she has most of this season, was masterful, striking out 15 and allowing just two hits in the complete game win.
“She had a few full counts tonight, and to come back and get the strikeout comes with maturity,” said Portage coach Connie Wampler on Walker. “That’s what seniors do; they make plays when they need to make plays.”
Walker looked strong early, striking out the first two batters before sophomore Olivia Limmex threw out Sauk Prairie junior Sarah Albers trying to steal second to finish off the one-two-three top of the first inning.
Following the Eagles’ quick exit, the Warriors (4-3 Badger North, 10-4 overall) got to work on offense in the bottom half of the frame.
Limmex opened the inning with a leadoff single before junior Meghan Witt worked a full count walk to put a pair on for sophomore Joia Simonson.
Like Witt, Simonson worked a full count and won the battle, smashing an RBI single up the middle to put the Warriors up 1-0.
Portage kept things rolling later in the inning, working the count on Eagles pitcher Kayla Breunig to the tune of three RBI walks by junior Nicole Weiss, freshman Katelyn Belleau and senior Morgan Miles to extend the lead to 4-0.
The restrained approach was a welcome one following the two teams’ game last Friday, an 8-5 loss for the Warriors, in which it took Portage until the seventh inning to push a run across.
“We talked a lot about the game on Friday and adjustments that we need to make and we were a bit more ready this time around,” said Wampler. “We definitely took advantage of the walks in the first inning that was huge. The girls were patient and they seemed more relaxed at the plate than last time.”
With a comfortable lead, Walker continued to shine, retiring 12 of the next 14 batters in order as the Warriors held their 4-0 lead heading to the top of the sixth.
The Eagles (3-3, 5-4) started the top of the frame strong as Breunig worked a one-out walk and reached third on a passed ball before scoring on an error to make it 4-1.
Sauk Prairie later loaded the bases with two outs, but the Warriors got out of the jam as Walker struck out senior Sarah Malmberg to end the threat.
“It’s really easy and fun to pitch when you know that you have eight players behind you that can really help you out in those situations and are there to back you up,” said Walker.
Having their lead cut, the Warriors answered back with a run in the bottom of the frame to retake a four-run lead before Walker closed things out by striking out the side in the seventh to seal the win.
While Walker was strong in the circle, Limmex and Simonson each went 2-for-4, including a triple by Simonson, and Witt added a double to pace the Warriors attack.
“We’ve been talking all season about making adjustments, having plans at the plate and learning from experiences,” said Wampler. “We’ve learned a lot from the good games we’ve had and we’re just going to keep gaining more confidence and keep moving forward to have a good end to the season.”
For Walker, she’s happy that the Warriors are on the same page as the team readies for the final push.
“Everybody wants to play, is ready to work hard at all times and is ready to fight,” she said.
PORTAGE 5, SAUK PRAIRIE 1
Sauk Prairie 000 001 0 – 1 2 0
Portage 400 001 x – 5 7 2
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) – SP: K. Breunig (L, 6-7-5-6-7). P: Walker (W, 7-2-0-3-15).
Leading hitters – SP: none. P: Limmex 2x4, Simonson 2x4. 2B – Witt. 3B – Simonson.
Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR.