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It hasn’t been the most ideal start for the Portage softball team this season, dropping two of its first three games.

In need of a pick-me-up, the Warriors just got just what they were looking for Thursday night as they cruised to a 14-3 six-inning win over rival Baraboo in a Badger North Conference game at Kiwanis Field. Junior Katelyn Belleau went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs as one of four Portage players with multiple hits in the team’s sixth consecutive win over the Thunderbirds.

“The girls came into the game with an attitude that we need to play better than we did last time,” Portage coach Connie Wampler said. “it was good to see they stuck with their game plan of being patient at the plate, talking more to each other and I thought they came together better as a team.”

Portage (2-2, 2-2 Badger North) got off to a good start as it took an early 2-0 lead after the first inning. The advantage didn’t last long, though, as Baraboo (5-1, 1-1) answered with three runs in the top of the third. After senior Jade Parchem opened the visitor’s half with a solo home run, freshman Paige Lewsion got a two-out bloop single to fall, knocking in two runs that give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead.

Senior Callie Hammermeister drew a walk, but Portage freshman Paige Edwards got freshman Caroline Lewison to ground out and end the inning.

It didn’t take long for Portage to get back out in front, as the Warriors reclaimed the lead in the home half of the inning and never let it go.

Belleau doubled down the left field line to open the inning before freshman Sydni Kratz reached on an error and stole second base to put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out. Baraboo sophomore Emma Crary struck out Portage junior Payton Woodhouse to put the Warriors’ threat in jeopardy, but senior Lauren Pace snuck a single past second base to plate both Belleau and Kratz for a 4-3 lead.

“I think it showed the girls had some good focus,” Wampler said of the quick answer. “Instead of just waiting for it to happen, they went out and made it happen, which we haven’t done yet this season. It was good to see they wanted to get at it right away.”

The Warriors were far from finished, however, as Portage tacked on nine more runs over the next three innings to run away with the game.

A two-run, two-out single by Belleau in the bottom of the fourth pushed the lead to 6-3. The Warriors added three more in the fifth behind a two-run single by junior McKenzie Brown and an RBI bunt single by junior Brianna Brandner.

Portage ended things early in the sixth. After a one-out RBI single by sophomore Madelynne DeMarte, Brandner, who went 2-for-5, and Limmex hit consecutive two-run singles to trigger the 10-run rule.

“Everybody took responsibility with how things have gone so far this season, so it was nice to see everybody stepping up and wanting to be contributors,” Wampler said.

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Woodhouse went 2-for-4, including a two-run double that got the Warriors on the board in the bottom of the first inning, while Brown also added a pair of hits. Edwards was also impressive in her varsity debut as the right-hander struck out five and gave up three runs on six hits and four walks in the complete-game win.

Wampler praised the freshman for being mentally tough and keeping her composure in some tight spots, including a bases loaded jam in the fifth inning.

“She’s always around the plate and that’s why we wanted her out there tonight, because we know she’s going to give us some balls to make some plays,” Wampler said.

Wampler echoed those sentiments about the rest of the team in the frigid conditions, and despite the up-and-down start, she feels things are starting to click.

“It’s taken us a little time to get there and we still have work to do, it’s a process, but I think we’re all more on the same page now,” she said. “I think more good things should come.”

PORTAGE 14, BARABOO 3 (6)

Baraboo 003 000 — 3 6 5

Portage 202 235 — 14 12 3

Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Bar: Crary (L; 5.2-0-10-4-3). P: Edwards (W; 6-0-3-4-5).

Leading Hitters — Bar: Lewison (2x2). HR — Parchem. P: Brandner 2x5, Belleau 3x4, Brown 2x4, Woodhouse 2x4. 2B — Belleau, Woodhouse.

Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR or contact him at 608-745-3512.

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