PORTAGE | Kaitlin Doud had herself a game Thursday afternoon.
The Portage junior blasted two home runs, including the eventual game-winner, and added several highlight-reel defensive plays as Times No. 3 Portage beat No. 4 Lake Central 3-1 in Duneland Athletic Conference action.
Doud’s game-winning home run came in the bottom of the sixth inning and Kylie Jones added an insurance home run before the junior pitcher got the final three outs to extend Portage’s winning streak to seven games.
“This was just a really great game for me,” Doud said. “It means a lot to beat Lake Central. We hear things and we know what was said … people saying our state championship was a fluke. Well, we’ve got the ring and we won today.”
Doud’s offensive heroics were much-needed for Portage (7-1, 3-0 DAC), especially after a defensive miscue gave Lake Central (6-4, 2-2) the opportunity to tie the game. Aspyn Novak was on first base with two outs in the top of the sixth when Lauren Ladwig hit a routine grounder toward the shortstop Doud. The ball took a wicked bounce just as Doud put her glove to the ground and scooted into the outfield allowing Ladwig to reach safely. Chrissy Addison tied the game with an RBI single on the next at-bat.
“The ball just took a terrible bounce,” Doud said. “You can’t give a team like Lake Central second chances; they’re too good for that. We just had to move on to the next play.”
Doud got the home crowd on their feet several times earlier in the game while playing the field. The junior took hits away from Lake Central’s Julia Schassburger on multiple occasions with superb defense, including one play where she threw out Schassburger from her knees.
“It was one of my goals this season to throw someone out from my knees,” Doud said. “I think I had something like seven errors against Lake Central when we played them my freshman year. Ever since that game, I’ve tried to come out focused on my defense.”
Doud’s two home runs and the other blast from Jones represented the only mistakes made by Lake Central’s Lily Del Toro in an otherwise strong pitching performance. Del Toro struck out eight while giving up only four hits. The senior hurler failed to issue a walk.
Jones improved to 5-1 by striking out six while giving up seven hits.
“Both pitchers did a really nice job today,” Lake Central coach Jeff Sherman said. “Lily had a couple that she’d like to have back. With our lineup, we’d like to think that a couple is something we can usually overcome.”