WEST LAFAYETTE | Portage didn’t get any hits off Northridge’s Haley Nixon until the sixth inning.
The Indians made their two hits count in a dynamic two-run rally and advanced at the Class 4A Harrison Semistate with a 2-0 victory in the semifinals.
“I’ll take ‘em,” Portage coach Lisa Hayes said of the late offense. “I don’t care when they are, I’ll take ‘em.
“I told the girls a long time ago: once postseason starts, it doesn’t matter how ugly it is as long as you get the ‘W.’”
It turned out to be a pretty rally, as senior Stephanie Upton tripled to the fence in center to lead off the frame for the Indians (23-6).
“It was a change-up,” Upton said. “I waited on it and just hit it as hard as I could.”
Jena Alaniz reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners for leadoff hitter Jalise McKnight.
McKnight lined a single to the hole between first and second to plate Upton.
“She had been pitching me outside every time," McKnight said, "and I was just ready for it."
After Rachel Ortiz-Zabloudil reached on another fielder’s choice, Haley Hodges drove in the second run with a hard-hit ground ball that Northfield (26-2) turned into a force play at second. Nixon induced a double play to end the inning.
Portage sophomore pitcher Kiley Jones closed out the win in the top of seventh. She had three strikeouts and allowed just three hits.
“To get the last out with a strikeout looking was beautiful,” Hayes said.
Jones wiggled out of jams in the fourth and fifth. Third baseman Alexis Johnson fielded a pop-out bunt attempt and completed the double play with a throw to first base in the fifth.
“In those situations, I just knew we had to get an out,” Jones said. “… We had some fantastic defense. I knew I could count on them, and it was great.”