PORTAGE | When she connected, Kaitlin Doud knew she hit it well.
“I didn’t know it was going to go out, but I knew I hit it good,” Doud said about her two-run homer. “I have been trying to put level swings on the ball and drive it. I knew I drove that one pretty good.”
Doud drove it deep over the left-center fence to break a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth and give Times No. 3 Portage a dramatic 2-0 Duneland Conference win against rival Chesterton.
Doud is hot. The freshman is 7-for-7 the last two games, with a double, homer, and four RBIs.
“Kaitlin has been playing really well,” Portage coach Lisa Hayes said. “She’s been driving the ball hard to all fields. She is also been pitching really well when it's her turn. Kaitlin is on a roll.”
The Indians (14-6, 9-4) needed every bit of Doud’s roll to sweep the season series from the Trojans (12-5, 7-5).
The teams were scoreless through five and a half innings. Pitchers Kiley Jones (Portage) and Megan Tymorek (Chesterton) were both firing blanks, with 12 strikeouts and no walks between them. The Indians had only managed four singles before the bottom of the sixth. The Trojans has runners in scoring position in the first two innings but had been stonewalled the last four.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in those first two innings,” Chesterton coach LouAnn Hopson said. “We had runners on third in both of the first two innings and couldn’t get either one home. Then Jones shut the door on us for the next four innings.”
At one point, Jones retired 13 in a row, five by strikeout.
Tymorek has matched Jones pitch for pitch until the sixth. Jalise McKnight led off with a deep fly out to left, and Jena Alaniz followed with a rope to left for a single. Haley Hodges drove a fly ball to deep left before Doud cleared the fences to break the tie.
The Trojans had one more chance in the seventh. Amanda Dujmovich led off with a solid single to center. After two fly outs, Shelby Carter hit a grounder that Jones threw into left for a two-base error that put runners on second and third with two outs.
Hayes took a walk to the pitcher’s mound to calm down her freshman.
“Kiley got pumped for that last out,” Hayes said. “Sometimes that easy throw is the hardest one.”
Jones came back to punch out pinch-hitter Lauren Stevenson to complete the shutout.
The Indians have won six out of their last seven on their way to second place in the DAC.
“Our defense is finally starting to play as well as the other phases of the game,” Hayes said. “We can be pretty good if we can put it all together.”