In its pursuit of a Badger North Conference title the last number of years, one team has cast the biggest shadow on the Portage softball team: DeForest.
The Norskies again ruined the Warriors’ bid at knocking off the reigning league champs on Tuesday as Portage’s fast start quickly faded away in a 9-5 loss at Kiwanis Field. Junior Katelyn Belleau went 2-for-4 with a double and junior Anna Kratz went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs to lead Portage in the losing effort.
“We weren’t into the game for the full seven innings,” Portage coach Connie Wampler said. “We had moments when we were into the game but we weren’t focused for the full seven innings.”
After being shut out in their first meeting of the season 4-0, the Warriors (8-4, 6-3 Badger North) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning. The lead didn’t last long however as the Norskies (10-2, 7-0) responded in the visitors half of the third by notching five runs to seize control.
After a one-out single by senior Kaylee Ramirez, senior Cammie Riemer doubled and junior Taylor Von Behren walked to load the bases. Sophomore Jordan Marty then put DeForest in front with a two-run double.
With the lead gone, Wampler switched out freshman starting pitcher Paige Edwards for senior Joia Simonson looking to limit the damage. The move didn’t work out as DeForest junior Taylor Tschumper laced a triple just over the outstretched arms of Portage right fielder Olivia Limmex to bring in two more and pad the Norskies’ lead to 4-1.
Tschumper scored two batters later on a Warriors fielding error before Simonson struck out the final two batters to end the inning. Wampler attributed Portage’s struggles to get the Norskies out to DeForest’s approach at the plate and the Warriors inability to “getting them to chase things out of the zone.”
Defensive miscues continued to mar Portage as DeForest pushed across four more unearned runs to extend its advantage. The Norskies notched two in the fourth and two more in the seventh, with both innings being prolonged by fielding errors and dropped third strikes, to take a 9-1 lead.
Facing an eight-run hole and with only three outs left, the Warriors showed signs of life in the home half of the final inning. After Belleau and Simonson singled to open the inning, Limmex drew a full count walk with one out to load the bases for Lauren Pace. The senior designated player followed Limmex’s walk with an RBI free pass of her own to cut the lead to 9-2.
Freshman Sydni Kratz kept the rally going by lacing an RBI single to center field but Limmex got caught in a rundown trying to score from second keep the score at 9-3. Portage continued to chip away as junior McKenzie Brown drew a full-count walk before Anna Kratz delivered a two-run single to pull the Warriors within 9-5.
The deficit proved to be too much to overcome and the rally too little too late in the end however, as junior Brianna Brandner popped out to the catcher to end the game. While Wampler liked the team’s adjustments and urgency in the seventh inning, she said the Warriors “didn’t get, or look to get, the ball out in front of us as much,” the rest of the way as Portage had just four hits the first six frames.
Portage got off to a strong start taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. After a leadoff groundout, Belleau doubled to right center field and Simonson was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on.
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A fielder’s choice by sophomore Payton Woodhouse wiped out Belleau, but Limmex worked a full-count walk before Pace drew an RBI walk to put the Warriors in front. Portage missed out on a chance to hang a crooked number on the board however as Sydni Kratz struck out to end the threat.
“We didn’t play very good defense tonight so we needed a better cushion, so leaving the bases stranded in the first inning was disappointing,” Wampler said. “We worked so hard to get going early and then kind of laid an egg.”
Simonson fanned 10 batters while giving up no walks and five hits in 4.2 innings of relief work, while Edwards gave up four earned runs on five hits and one walk with a strikeout to get the loss.
As disappointing as the loss is, the 12th consecutive to the Norskies, Portage has a quick turnaround with Waunakee coming to town on Thursday. After losing the first meeting against Waunakee this year 12-2 in five innings, there’s plenty of motivation to get back into the win column.
“This should be a wake-up call that we need to be focused and ready for every inning, every at bat and that’s what good teams do and tonight we didn’t do that,” Wampler said.
DEFOREST 9, PORTAGE 5
DeForest 005 200 2 — 9 11 0
Portage 100 000 4 — 5 8 3
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — DeF: Shaw (W; 6-4-1-6-5), Marty (1-4-4-3-1). Por: Edwards (L; 2.1-5-4-1-1),Simonson (4.2-5-0-0-10).
Leading Hitters — DeF: Tschumper 2x4, Riemer 2x4, Jansen 2x3. 2B — Marty, Riemer. 3B — Tschumper. Por: Belleau 2x4, A. Kratz 2x3. 2B — Belleau.