Returning the favor
La PORTE — A year ago, La Porte’s softball team suffered a gut-wrenching, 8-7, eight-inning setback at New Prairie.
For the first four-and-a-half innings on Saturday morning, the Slicers were staring at their second straight loss to their county nemesis, trailing 2-0.
La Porte regrouped just in time, though, plating three runs in its final two at-bats, including the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a wild pitch, avenging that loss to the Cougars with a 3-2 decision at Kesling Park.
“We wanted this win because we’ve played with most of these girls on teams together,” said the Slicers’ Megan Reed, who played on La Porte Lazers’ travel teams with several New Prairie players. “It’s a great win for us. Winning by one run is always great.
“They’re my friends, so we can joke about it and everything now. But when we compete against each other, we’re always very competitive.”
Down 2-0 heading to the bottom of the fifth, La Porte tied the contest with a pair of runs.
An inning later, the Slicers (6-2) scored what proved to be the winning run against New Prairie (5-2). Reed singled with one out, and Nola Hammerschmidt sacrifice bunted her to second. Courtesy runner Peyton Harlow then ran for Reed and moved to third on a wild pitch. Harlow then touched home plate on another wild pitch for a 3-2 lead.
“I thought we were ready to play the game, but you’ve got to catch the ball,” Cougars coach Derek Hicks said. “We let too many balls go by our mitts that were very catchable.”
The two wild pitches were outliers in a game that featured no errors.
Besides stalwart defense, La Porte sophomore MaCayla Boone was effective in the circle and the Slicers got a few timely hits.
“Today was our best game of the year by far,” Slicers coach Ryan Sosinski said. “We played extremely clean in the field. No mistakes, no errors, no mental mishaps. This was the best we’ve looked all year, especially in the field.”
The starter Boone recorded the win. The right-hander surrendered a pair of runs, scattering six hits in seven innings. She posted five strikeouts and two walks.
“It was an absolutely phenomenal performance,” Sosinski said. “That was probably her best performance of the year. She had very few walks, she reduced those walks this time.”
Boone (5-1) had her wisdom teeth removed on Thursday, but handled the adversity admirably a mere two days later.
“Her toughness, her grit is unbelievable,” Sosinski added. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to have her. She came in today and she said, ‘I’m fine.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ And she said, ‘I’m good to go.’ So I was like, ‘OK, here we go then.’”
On the other side, N.P.’s Karissa Gilpin took the loss, giving up three runs on five hits, fanning eight and walking three in six innings.
The visitors stoked Gilpin to an early lead, striking first when Lauren Wilcoxson ripped an RBI double to left center field. That drove in freshman Maddie McSurley and made it 1-0 in the third.
“It was a very nice hit, very solid,” Hicks said. “She’s a senior and she’s a leader.”
A few innings later, the Cougars pushed the margin to 2-0 in the fifth. Freshman Alyssa Forys hit a leadoff single, moved to second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch.
La Porte quickly answered in the bottom half.
Morgan Keen laced an RBI double to right center, while Olivia Zarantonello had an RBI base hit to left to knot the score, 2-2. Sophie Sorg drew a leadoff walk to begin the inning.
“That was a great plate approach by Morgan and her bat’s been getting hot lately,” Sosinski said. “That was huge. And ‘Z’ (Zarantonello) came through. She had a tough game against Crown Point, so she really wanted to make up for it and she did in a big way right there.”
Reed guided La Porte’s offense, finishing 2-for-3 and starting the game-winning rally in the sixth.
“If I miss the ball or anything, I just let that go, and then focus on the next pitch,” Reed said. “Forget about what I did on the last one. And just hit the ball.”
McSurley went 2-of-3, and Forys singled and walked.
La Porte 3, New Prairie 2
The Slicers’ Megan Reed went 2-for-3 and began the game-winning rally.