SAUK CITY — It’s taken some time for Portage’s bats to heat up this week, and on Friday night, it was too little too late.
For a third straight game, the Warriors fell behind early, and this time, were unable to rally in an 8-5 loss to Sauk Prairie in a Badger North Conference game at Sauk Prairie Middle School.
“We didn’t make very many adjustments early on at the plate and defensively, we know we needed to talk more,” said Portage co-head coach Connie Wampler. “They’re all good learning and growth experiences, but you can’t afford to have three or four errors and keep it a tight game.”
The two teams played to a 0-0 tie through the first two innings before Sauk Prairie snatched the lead with a run in the bottom of the third.
The Warriors (3-3 Badger North, 8-4 overall) had a prime opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the top of the fourth, but were unable to do so.
After junior Meghan Witt and sophomore Joia Simonson opened the inning with back-to-back walks, freshman Katelyn Belleau worked a two-out walk to load the bases.
Portage’s chance went awry; however, as senior Jessica Givens struck out swinging to end the theat.
Having evaded the Warriors push, the Eagles padded their lead in the bottom of the frame as Sauk Prairie (3-2, 5-3) batted around its line-up, scoring five runs to seize a 6-0 lead.
After leading off the inning with a double, senior Katie Zins scored on an error and later sophomore Maddie Snapp did the same thing to put the Eagles up 3-0.
Sauk Prairie kept things rolling as junior Kayla Breunig ripped an RBI double, and junior Sarah Albers and sophomore Regin Suchla hit back-to-back RBI singles to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead.
“We just have to talk more,” said Wampler on the five-run fourth in which the Warriors committed two of their four errors. “There wasn’t enough communication in that inning when runners are going and who covers the bag.”
Now trailing by six, the Warriors (3-3, 8-4) got a runner on base in the fifth and sixth innings, but were unable to score in either frame.
The Eagles, however, added a pair of runs in the sixth inning to put the Warriors in an 8-0 hole.
Down to their final three outs, Portage’s bats came to life in the top of the seventh inning. After a lead-off out, sophomore Lauren Pace singled and senior Morgan Miles walked to put a a pair of runners on.
Following a second out, Witt, who struck out 10 in a losing effort, ripped a two-run double to right field to cut the Warriors deficit to 8-2.
Simonson followed Witt’s hit with a walk and Walker kept the hits coming with three-run home run to left field, her third in the past two games, to make it 8-5.
Looking to keep the rally alive, junior Nicole Weiss walked and later stole second, but Belleau grounded out to end the threat and the game.
Pace went 2-for-3 to lead the Warriors as their only multi-hit batter, as Portage struggled against the speed of Breunig, who struck out 12 in the complete game win.
“She was just throwing straight heat and the girls were having a hard time catching up to that,” said Wampler. “But we did at the end, so that’s the good part.”
While it’s a tough loss, Wampler and co-head coach Amy Zeihen are confident the Warriors can transfer Friday’s seventh inning rally into next Tuesday when the Warriors face the Eagles in Portage.
“We know we’re going to see them next week so it was nice to have the momentum at the end of the game, and hopefully that feeds into when we face them again,” said Zeihen.
PORTAGE HOSTING YOUTH NIGHT
The Portage softball team will be hosting its youth night before Monday’s non-conference game against Westfield at Kiwanis Field in Portage.
The Warriors team will be set up to sign team posters beginning at 5 p.m. before taking on the Pioneers at 7 p.m.
SAUK PRAIRIE 8, PORTAGE 5
Portage 000 000 5 – 5 5 4
Sauk Prairie 001 502 x – 8 7 1
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) – P: Witt (L, 6-7-6-3-10). SP: K. Breunig (W, 7-5-5-6-12).
Leading hitters – P: Pace 2x3. 2B – Witt. HR – Walker. SP: K. Breunig 3x4, Albers 2x4, Suchla 2x4. 2B – K. Breunig 2, K. Zins. 3B – Albers.
Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR.
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