MUNSTER | A summer regimen of pitching and hooping was not kind to Kaitlin Doud’s lower back.
A stress fracture ensued for the dual-sport threat, and Doud received her medical release a week or so before Portage’s first basketball game after missing fall softball. Throughout basketball season she worked to get back to her comfort level but felt like she was constantly behind in her progress.
This softball season, however, she’s ahead of the game.
Placed into the leadoff spot earlier this week after much hemming and hawing among the coaching staff, Doud is 8-for-12 with three doubles, a triple and two home runs on the young season.
That includes a 2-for-4 effort with a pair of doubles and a pair of runs -- not to mention the hit that began an incredible, game-breaking rally -- during Times No. 2 Portage’s 12-1, five-inning, nonconference win over host Munster Saturday morning.
“I’ve just been working on keeping my head down and staying level,” Doud said. “I worked really hard coming back for this season and getting into the swing of things.”
Doud led off Portage’s loss to Andrean with a first-pitch home run, and on Saturday she connected for a double to lead off the game. No. 2 hitter Sydney Coundiff doubled to score Doud, and Coundiff scored on Adrien Hall’s single.
That would have been enough for pitcher Kiley Jones to eke out a close win, just like Portage did, 2-1, against Munster in last year’s regional.
However, after Munster scratched a run across in the bottom of the fourth, Portage entered a zone with Doud’s double followed by eight consecutive singles, all on the first or second pitch of at-bats, to end the game in five innings.
“We all got in a rhythm,” Doud said. “Every batter was communicating like, ‘Hey, where’s she throwing you?’ We were definitely communicating well, and that definitely gave us a lot of momentum.”
Defending Class 4A state champ Portage (2-1) also won a lopsided regular season game against the Mustangs (1-2) last season.
“After they scored I started getting nervous that it would be another classic Portage-Munster game,” Portage coach Lisa Hayes said. “Munster can put a hurting on someone really fast, but luckily we came through.”
Kiley Jones scattered six hits, walked none and fanned two to earn the win. She also drove in a team-high four runs. Coundiff scored three.
Munster coach Beth Thornburg had hoped starter Cathy Lebryk would settle down after a tough first inning. She did until the disastrous fifth.
“They hit the ball, and they were all legit,” Thornburg said. “There wasn’t one that was a little Texas Leaguer. They were all shots.”