LOWELL | If a high school softball game was only three innings, Times No. 3 Portage may not be flying so high.
The Indians take one trip through the order before they start making noise. That game plan worked to perfection Tuesday at Lowell where Portage scored 10 runs in the final four innings to win 11-0.
"The first couple innings hitters see what the pitcher has, time her up and makes adjustments," Portage coach Lisa Hayes said. "Unless the other pitcher is dominant, our kids usually get going the second time through."
Portage (15-7) did hit the ball hard, but the Red Devils (10-16) made six errors and several more mental blunders that caused the close game to evaporate.
Morgan Eastridge led the Indians, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Stephanie Upton was 3-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and two doubles. Jalise McKnight and Kaitlin Doud each had two RBIs.
"I knew I needed to hit the ball," Upton said. "It feels really good to get a lot of hits and help out my team."
The Indians started their Northwest Crossroads Conference tour. Portage will play Highland on Thursday and Munster on Saturday before sectionals begin next week.
"It was good for us to play a different team; we know the girls in the Duneland really well," Hayes said. "If we can get out of sectionals playing these different teams will help us in case we play them (in regionals)."
Portage pitcher Heather Zengler scattered three hits to pick up the shutout.
"I used a combination of everything," Zengler said. "It feels good. I'm glad to have my teammates behind me to back me up."
The Indians didn't let up in the seventh inning, continuing to bunt and steal bases on their way to a six-run inning.
"The weather was nice and no one got hurt," Lowell coach Pete Iussig said. "We've been making progress since (the) Twin Lakes (tournament), but we took a couple steps back today.
"We've got to keep working and hope we can bring our A game to sectionals."