Vicksburg softball wins against Portage Central

Maddison Diekman up to bat for the Bulldogs.

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.”

Vicksburg lacrosse drops early game to Lowell

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity boys’ lacrosse team put in a valiant effort, but ultimately fell to the Lowell Red Arrows 17-9 in one of its first matchups of the season.

The Bulldogs scored first thanks to a nice goal from Thomas Murphy. He was Vicksburg’s leading scorer, putting up five total in the contest. Through the first period and much of the second it was either team’s ballgame as the two teams traded goals back and forth. After going down 1-2 to Lowell, Chase Willcutt tied things up again 2-2. Shortly after that, Ashton DeVries made a nice cut past a defender and cut in front of the net to help the Bulldogs take a 3-2 lead.

Lowell answered that score before Murphy put Vicksburg back in the lead with a goal after an assist from Thomas Harsha. After the Red Arrows tied it up again, Harsha drove home a goal of his own to make it 5-4.

After that goal, Murphy got the hattrick with his third goal of the day to make it 6-4 on an assist from Harrison Barton. After that score, Lowell kept up what seemed like a constant stream of pressure. Goalie Jacob Wood made several great saves. However, the onslaught by Lowell was relentless and the team scored four straight goals to put the visitors up 8-6 at the half. In the third period, Lowell scored three more times to go up 11-6 over the Bulldogs.

Murphy scored shortly into the fourth to halt the bleeding momentarily. However, Lowell scored three more goals to widen the lead to 14-7. DeVries and Murphy both scored late, but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback as Lowell easily ran out the clock for a 17-9 win over the Bulldogs.

Vicksburg soccer loses close one to Dowagiac

Payton Hoopingarner pursues the ball.

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg girls’ varsity soccer team came up just short of picking up its first win of the season in a 2-1 loss to Dowagiac.

The Bulldogs, (0-5-2), were up 1-0 in the first half of the game before Dowagiac managed to tie it up. Vicksburg was still in the game until the final three minutes, when Dowagiac got a lucky bounce that allowed a goal with 2:43 left. The girls made a good push in the last minutes to try and tie it up again but ran out of time. Vicksburg’s lone goal came from Kendra Cooley after an excellent pass from Mackenzie Pryor.

“It was a beautiful goal, we were up 1-0 in the first half,” new Head Coach Lahou Boulner said. “We missed probably six or seven goals. In the second half we just couldn’t execute.

“Credit to Dowagiac for coming back in the second half and putting it to us,” he said.

Boulner has coached the boys’ team the last few seasons and last year saw that team finally make its first postseason appearance in years. Boulner is hopeful he can do the same with the girls. This year’s roster has an advantage of youth that should prove advantageous in the long run. There are only two seniors and two juniors. He said there’s a lot of work to do, but he’s hopeful for the rest of the year.

“We have the opportunity to grow as a team and we’re going to have a good season,” Boulner said.