MERRILLVILLE | With two of the top pitchers in the area taking the circle Tuesday afternoon, the last thing anyone expected between Times No. 2 Portage and No. 7 Andrean was an offensive explosion.
Andrean shortstop Jessica Adamczyk blasted two home runs, including a grand slam in the fifth inning, as the 59ers knocked off the defending Class 4A state-champion Indians 12-8 in the season opener for both teams.
Brenna Boyle added another home run for Andrean and there were five total. Adamczyk finished the game with three hits and six RBIs.
"It was like a home run derby out there," Adamczyk said. "After my first home run, I just kind of nodded my head and knew the game was on."
Portage's Kaitlin Doud set the tone for the day by hitting a first-pitch ball over the fence in the top of the first off Boyle. The Indians took advantage of three Andrean errors in the third for three runs, then added a run off another error in the fourth.
Adamczyk's first home run cut into the deficit, then the sophomore delivered heroics in the fifth when she came to the plate with the bases loaded. Fighting through a series of pitches against Portage hurler Kiley Jones, Adamczyk connected on a 2-2 offering and sent the ball over the right field fence before being mobbed by her teammates at home plate. The 59ers added two more runs in the inning and carried a 9-5 lead into the sixth.
"I live in Portage, and I know a lot of those girls from travel ball," Adamczyk said. "This just means a lot to me to be able to get this win. They're a good team and they're the defending state champions. I've never been a state champion and I'm really looking forward to this season."
The Indians answered Andrean's rally with Dalton Minor's two-run homer in the sixth. Doud and Minor each had two hits and scored twice.
"We need to learn how to fight back," Portage coach Lisa Hayes said. "We need to learn to trust each other. I don't want to be playing the best at the beginning of the season. I want to learn so we're playing our best at the end of the season. I don't mind losing the first game of the year. I don't want to lose the last game of the year."
The victory was extra sweet for Andrean given that coach Brooke Runyan started a lineup that featured four freshmen and two sophomores. Freshman third baseman Haley Huesken had three hits, including a double, and scored two runs.
"This was the first experience in varsity for a lot of these girls and it was against a bigger school," Runyan said. "This gives us a lot of confidence for the season, especially for our younger players."