By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity softball team only had time to get one practice in on its home field before playing its first double header against Portage Central. The girls didn’t let that faze them though as they came away with 4-3 and 9-3 victories in both contests.
“Having only one practice on the field and having our first two games against a quality opponent, I’m happy with the outcome,” Head Coach Paul Gephart said after the game.
In the second contest, the Bulldogs started off strong, putting Maddison Diekman and Karyna Lewis on base with singles. Peyton Smith hit a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners into scoring position. Kennedy Davis hit an RBI single for the first score. Lewis and courtesy runner Tristin Abnet scored with a nice RBI double from Audrie Dugan. She was subsequently brought home by Abby Lockwood to make the score 4-0 early.
In the top of the second, it looked like the Mustangs were going to make a game of it when Portage Central loaded the bases with no outs. Gephart called a timeout and a short conference to calm things down.
“I just told them: ‘Hey, relax and focus, you’ve got a good defense out here. We can’t walk people,” Gephart said. “As long as you focus on finding your spots, we’ll be okay.’”
Davis responded with an excellent pitching display against the next two Portage Central batters. Gephart praised the mental toughness of Davis to shake off the mistakes.
“She came back and struck the next two girls out, which was huge,” Gephart said.
Lewis then caught a long drive to left field to end the inning and strand three runners. Portage managed just a single run in the inning.
“Bases loaded, no outs, one run. You can’t complain about that,” Gephart said.
The Bulldogs then got two runs back in the bottom of the inning. Brooklynn Ringler started things off with a single before Torie Barga hit a nice double. Diekman then walked to load the bases. Ringler scored on a pop fly and Smith hit an RBI to bring Lewis home and make it 6-1.
Portage Central scored twice in the top of the fourth to make it 6-3 on a couple of Bulldog errors. However, the girls responded again with Diekman and Lewis scoring off a Smith triple. A few plays later Smith ran home on a double by Davis to make it 9-3. The defense locked down after that to secure the win.
Gephart expects the Wolverine to be tough again this year. He’s excited to see what the team can do this year as it will be loaded with youth again. They are starting five sophomores and two juniors.
“First two games out, I’m happy with the way we played. I think we’ll hit better as the season goes, and I think most of our mistakes were base running,” Gephart said. “We just hope to compete and have an opportunity to be one of those top tier teams.”
By Travis Smola