NEW CARLISLE — It didn’t take long for La Porte’s softball team to assert itself offensively versus New Prairie on Monday.
Once it started hitting, it kept up the offensive onslaught.
Behind both double-digit hits and runs in the game, the Slicers raced out to a 7-1 lead after an inning-and-a-half and routed the county nemesis Cougars 11-1 in five innings at Ziolkowski Field in an added game for each team.
It was a much different contest than La Porte’s 3-2 win over New Prairie on April 13 at Kesling Park.
“Today we were more confident and more relaxed,” said La Porte’s Shelby Linn, who went 3-for-4 with a double, home run, and three RBI. “Earlier in the season we were more focused on like our batting averages or just trying to hit a homer. But we’re more relaxed, more confident up there now, and that goes for the whole team.”
As a squad, the Slicers (13-6) earned 11 hits and got a stalwart pitching performance by sophomore Regan Hague. They were also reliable defensively with a mere one error.
“This was obviously our best game by far all year,” La Porte coach Ryan Sosinski said. “We were very clean in the field and we hit the ball well today. We felt pretty confident up there at the plate. We’ve been hitting it pretty well the past few weeks anyway. We’re just carrying it over. This is another game our girls really wanted. We had a good plate approach.”
It was a much different sentiment for the Cougars (11-6), meanwhile.
“We beat ourselves,” New Prairie coach Derek Hicks said. “La Porte came ready to play and they are a great team. They hit the heck out of the ball. We know that already. We just didn’t seem to match the level they were at today.”
The Slicers capitalized on a misplayed fly ball and a wild pitch to plate two runs in the first inning.
Olivia Zarantonello, who led off with a bloop single to center field, scored on a wild pitch. Later, Linn hit a fly ball to right, which right fielder Carli Tharp misplayed and it dropped in front of her, allowing Linn to double. Linn then scored on Megan Reed’s sacrifice fly to center, making it 2-0.
In the bottom of the first, the Cougars responded to cut it to 2-1.
They finished with three hits in the inning and scored on Amanda Trojanowski’s RBI single to right center.
La Porte erupted for five runs on five hits in the second. All of the runs scored with two outs and N.P. had an error and a walk in the frame.
Zarantonello ripped a two-run double to deep left, while Linn had an RBI single up the middle. Reed followed with a two-run base hit to right center, putting the visitors firmly ahead 7-1.
In the fourth, Linn smacked a two-run homer to left to extend the lead.
“I was just hoping for a base hit,” Linn said. “I didn’t think it was going over. I wasn’t trying anything special, it just happened that way I guess. I missed my coaches’ hand at first because I was so excited.”
Besides Linn, Zarantonello finished 3-of-4 with a double and two RBI, and Reed went 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI. Sophie Sorg finished 2-of-3.
The starter Hague notched the victory for the Slicers. The left-hander gave up only one run, scattering eight hits in five innings. She recorded a pair of strikeouts and one walk.
“She was phenomenal,” Sosinski said. “That’s our ace. There’s our ace. She did an awesome job. She hit spots all day. I didn’t see one go over the middle of the plate. She was painting the corners well. She held this team to one run. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
Down 11-1 in the fourth, New Prairie loaded the bases with one out as Alyssa Forys and Kylie Briner each singled. Hague induced a pop-up to short and a ground ball to second to end the threat, however. Earlier, N.P. left runners on second and third as Hague got a strikeout to end the first.
Lauren Wilcoxson recorded the loss for the Cougars, allowing nine runs, six earned, on eight hits. She struck out three and walked three in three-plus innings. Quinlan Eggert threw the last two innings and did admirable. She surrendered two runs on three hits, fanning a pair and walking none.
Freshman Maddie McSurley and Forys, in addition to Trojanowski all had two hits for New Prairie.
“They came to play and hit the ball well,” Hicks said. “I thought we needed to score 10 runs to win this game. I felt like that the first time we played them because they’re such a good hitting team. But certainly some bright spots.”
La Porte 11, New Prairie 1 (5 innings)
The Slicers’ Olivia Zarantonello and Shelby Linn each had three hits.