PORTAGE | The task at hand was simple for Portage's Haley Hodges. She had to make a big impact in a key situation to continue the Indians' postseason Tuesday.
Hodges' two-out solo home run in the sixth inning gave the host Indians a 2-1 win over Munster in a Class 4A regional championship, the first for Portage since 2000.
“It was really, really special to me (because) I put that run on the board,” Hodges said. “I really wanted to help out, do it for my team and extend the season for all our seniors. It feels great.”
Hodges reached on an error in the first inning and flew out in the fourth. She was due for a big hit.
“I was ready for a solid hit,” she said. “I was looking for something in my zone, and when it came I took it and drove it out.”
Portage's other run came in the fourth when a towering shot from Kaitlin Doud barely cleared the left field fence for a solo homer, which gave the Indians (22-6) a 1-0 lead.
“Kaitlin's home run was absolutely huge, and Haley's was what we needed right at that time,” Portage coach Lisa Hayes said. “Both of them have come through all year for us, and that's icing on the cake right there.”
Both Portage's Kiley Jones and Munster's Carly Murphy pitched solid games. Jones struck out seven and allowed four hits, while Murphy fired back from a previous poor outing against Portage with 10 strikeouts.
“I said she would be ready to throw today, and she was,” Munster coach Beth Thornburg said of Murphy, who suffered the 11-1 loss on May 10. “She pitched an excellent game. She was able to throw her off speed for strikes as well. She did everything we needed her to do. We just needed to come up with a couple more runs. That is, in my opinion, the best hitting lineup we've faced all year.”
Munster (24-8) got its run in the sixth with an RBI-single from Emma Hodges.
After Haley Hodges' home run, third base umpire Steve Cox fell down, suffering what looked to be a left hamstring injury. After a 20-minute delay, he was carted off the field on a stretcher.
Portage will face either South Bend Riley or Northridge at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Harrison Semistate in West Lafayette.